For more than three decades, RBA has been a standard bearer for publishing in Spain, producing a range of high-quality magazines, periodicals and books. And the media group is just getting warmed up.
Having conquered the local market, RBA is now looking further afield, setting its sights on becoming the number one Hispanic-language publisher in the world through better syndication of their content and licensing of their owned brands. It’s a vision that led them to FIPP Consulting, which provides advisory, M&A and change management services across a whole spectrum of publishing and media topics.
“RBA aimed to enhance its licensing department to offer our content to publishers worldwide. We believed the best way to take the initial step was to seek guidance from experts who could share their know-how, thus shortening our path,” says Elsa Esparbé, Groups Rights and Licensing Manager at RBA. “That’s precisely what happened.
“Thanks to the services provided by FIPP Consulting, we were able to learn in only a few sessions what would have taken us years to know on our own. The flexible, fresh, and experienced perspective of the consultants allowed us to rethink automated processes and open up new business opportunities. After a year of collaboration, the project started with great momentum and success.”
From the outset, FIPP Consulting saw the enormous potential at RBA for expanding into different territories.
“RBA has lots of superb homes, food and women’s lifestyle content and there’s a great opportunity for that to live repurposed, translated in licensed additions outside of Spain,” says Alastair Lewis, Principal & Managing Director of FIPP Consulting.
“When it comes to this new international strategy, RBA was not sure where to begin and that’s where FIPP Consulting came in. For us it’s about giving them so much more clarity over what’s possible – taking it from being this kind of onerous ‘I know that there are ways of doing it, but I just don’t know where to start’ to clearing a path through the trees to walk down.”
The first few steps
Forging a new path for RBA started with Lewis and FIPP President & CEO James Hewes visiting the RBA offices in Barcelona to audit the media group’s content and assets, both in print and in digital.
FIPP Consulting then produced a benchmarking report which talked Esparbé through a range of different models being used by international publishers around the world – how they are monetising their content outside of their home market, whether that’s classic licensing, joint ventures or partnerships.
“We gave RBA a menu of options and illustrated why there’s no reason they can’t be playing in similar spaces,” says Lewis.
Esparbé adds: “The consultancy’s best practice examples and insights into potential challenges during the implementation of various programs and services were particularly helpful to us.”
Next, FIPP Consulting produced a set of strategic recommendations for how RBA might start to build a bigger international presence through a combination of the models in the benchmarking report.
The consultancy suggested that some of the RBA titles still lent themselves well to print licensing, and that the group could probably engage a third party to represent those titles in markets outside of Spain.
“We advised that RBA shouldn’t focus its time and energy on that so much – but let a third party take that on,” adds Lewis. “Instead, focus your time and energy on those brands which have more digital potential. You want to be identifying what assets those are and putting in place the right kind of platforms in order to be able to license or syndicate content in the right way.”
RBA also has an agreement with Disney for National Geographic History, which means that even though they’re a licensee, they can sub license the title in other territories.
“Our advice to Elsa was to spend her time focused on making sure that, internally, they’ve got the right systems and structure in place to be able to, for example, develop with a partner their lifestyle site in Latin America.”
In terms of a suggested timeline for implementing the changes, FIPP Consulting provided RBA with a list of short-term and long-term goals. The former includes streamlining existing international operations to serve new and existing clients more effectively; identifying international objectives by brand; building a pipeline for brand and content licensing and syndication opportunities; securing selected agent deals to begin building revenue and identifying a long-term technology roadmap.
Long terms goals include building new technology infrastructure to support broader international ambitions; developing a global Spanish-language digital business, combining subscriptions and e-commerce in a core vertical; building new partnerships around digital content and developing product licensing, endorsement licensing and other non-traditional revenue opportunities.
One of the key recommendations FIPP Consulting made to RBA was positioning themselves in the global market in the same way the likes of Hearst, Condé Nast, or Immediate Media do. Following on from that, RBA will be hosting the next Media Makers Meet (Mx3) conference at its offices in Barcelona in March 2024.
“Our advice was that you should look to become more of a player on the global publishing stage,” says Lewis. “This is how you raise your profile. That’s how you close deals and how you build reputation and credibility.”
For RBA, hosting the event aligns perfectly with the company’s ethos. “RBA has always been dedicated to promoting ideas, fostering dialogue, and spreading culture in the broadest sense through events, conferences, literary awards, and talks by contemporary figures,” says Esparbe. “We take pride in being an open window to the world, having welcomed over 200 national and international personalities, with an audience of more than 30,000 people.
“In this very spirit of intellectual enlightenment and global connectivity, our decision to host Media Makers Meet in our esteemed auditorium was not just a choice, but a passionate endeavour. This event stands as a cornerstone in the realm of professional networking, bringing together some of the brightest minds in the B2B landscape from across the globe.”
Expanding horizons – the state of cross-border publishing
As media businesses look to expand in the post-Covid era, cross-border publishing offers a world of possibilities. This report, produced by FIPP Consulting, answers these questions and more.