The legal team at the largest Spanish-language media company in the world is poised to help the company bolster its bottom line by extracting more licensing income from its content, the company’s legal operations chief says.
“This is a money maker for us,” Yesenia Santiago, vice president of legal ops at TelevisaUnivision, said in an Inside Voices podcast with Logikcull co-founder and CEO Andy Wilson.
TelevisaUnivision is using an AI-assisted tool, called RightsLogic, to help its 17-person rights-management team comb through the company’s contracts to extract the content-rights language so the company can more efficiently generate licensing income from all of the rights it owns.
“Our greatest asset are the rights we have as a media and entertainment company,” said Santiago, who joined TelevisiaUnivision last year after eight years as head of legal operations at MetLife. “We're not just treating it as a normal part of our CLM journey. Using a tool that can extract the language with precision is really going to help us in terms of determining what our available rights are so we can sell them to companies.”
The company formed in 2021 from the merger of Televisa, then Mexico’s largest Spanish-content producer known for its telenovelas, and Univision, the U.S.-based producer and distributor of Spanish language content. Among Univision’s content is the morning show Despierta America, with co-host Satcha Pretto, pictured above.
The rights management team started as part of a center of excellence that sets standards for the broader global media company. Most of those on the team are attorneys.
For Santiago, overseeing the team is just one function in her portfolio as head of legal operations for the company.
“This was a new area for me,” she said. “There are chains of title you need to know and understand. From just a title perspective, one telenovela in Spanish can have over 80 chapters. That’s over 80 episodes and for each episode you have the rights of authorship, the rights of the producers, the rights of the actors and the musicians. When you see a scene and there’s music playing in the background, that doesn’t just happen by accident; someone has to make sure the music is something you can use.”
The team’s other big role is compliance, which can get complicated with countries’ different content restrictions.
“In the U.S., we can’t show a movie like Braveheart [with its R rating] at 3 o’clock, school-time, because the FCC would be fining us,” she said. “But we can show it in Spanish.”
Looking ahead, Santiago is planning to look at additional software that can extract rights language in content throughout the company’s supply chain and make it available in one place to further reduce the team’s manual workload.
“I have at least five people that come in to watch live shows so they can catch with a five-second delay something inappropriate on TV so they can flag it,” she said.
Where additional software would come in handy is after the programming airs. “We can enter the metadata so it’s in the system and have it tagged,” she said. I can’t “tell you how much administrative burden is going to be reduced.”
These tools that extract language from content are examples of AI-assisted technology that is helpful today, something that gets lost in the growing talk about risks as AI expands, especially with generative AI that produces new content on the basis of user prompts.
“It’s a safe bet for this particular kind of worksheet,” said Santiago, referring to RightsLogic and other tools that extract content. “There’s nothing dangerous about that. We’re not putting fresh content on the internet. It’s really just AI at its best and [works] in a discrete way and we can really exploit it.”