Membership Makeover: Lessons in Evolving a Membership Model From the MPA’s Trusted Partner Network

The Motion Picture Association’s Trusted Partner Network hit a snag when film and television production moved to the cloud. MPA is revamping its approach with a member-tier reset.

This is the final entry in the two-part Membership Makeover series, highlighting revamps of association membership models. Check out the prior entry, about the Consumer Technology Association.

The film and television industry takes security seriously—both in the physical sense and in the cybersecurity sense—to protect the industry and the viewing experience.

Accordingly, the Motion Picture Association created an opportunity a few years ago to make life a little easier for vendors.

In recent years, MPA has taken a prominent role in helping industry suppliers build and manage their processes to prevent leaks of content on the internet before a film’s release date. In 2018, it co-created the Trusted Partner Network (TPN)—a program whose recent revamp also called for an assessment of membership structure in a brave new, cloud-driven world.

Read on to learn what’s driving the shift.

An Approach Built for a Physical World

TPN, which helps manage compliance programs for vendors that support the film industry throughout the production process, was launched jointly with the Content Delivery & Security Association (CDSA) and solved a content security problem that vendors were running into.

“All of the service providers, the vendors providing services to the content owners, were being audited and assessed for security reasons, multiple times by multiple content owners,” said Terri Davies, TPN’s president. “But the reality was they probably were asking 80 percent of the same questions.”

Most of this need was based around physical security—for example, setting guidelines about taking data offsite. The concept of centralizing security work found quick uptake in the industry—Davies said TPN saw 300 percent growth in its first year.

The program, now fully owned and operated by MPA after CDSA left the partnership last year, solved real problems for members. However, the pandemic created unexpected challenges as production studios moved toward cloud computing—something that TPN hadn’t accounted for.

“The sites that were being assessed got hit by COVID. And everybody left the site to move to the cloud,” Davies said. “And TPN was not offering cloud assessment, as MPA’s best practices didn’t include cloud. So the program had plateaued a little bit at that point.”

A Cloud-Driven Membership Refresh

Once this realization set in, Davies was brought on board to help MPA adapt its best practices to better match the needs of the industry and expand the program’s parameters. Standardization and understanding the needs of members makes the program work, Davies said, characterizing TPN’s approach as one that leans heavily on collaboration from all stakeholders.

“The exercise of getting into those best practices was not only change management, but enormous collaboration and seeking feedback,” Davies said. “Not just from our MPA members, but from the entire industry.”

That collaboration played into TPN’s membership strategy. The organization-within-an-organization now has seven tiers, accounting for service providers such as individual freelancers, large-scale post-production shops, and technology suppliers, along with the major studios.

In a lot of the new capabilities that we’re providing, we have done so in a way to make sure that all of those evolving relationships are well-represented.

Terri Davies, president of the Trusted Partner Network,
a subsidiary of the Motion Picture Association

Given the complexity of stakeholders, Davies said they had to do a lot of research to decide on the best model, taking inspiration from the Cloud Security Alliance.

“They do this on gross annual revenue, so that’s what we decided to model it on,” she said. “For us, membership starts at $250 a year, all the way up to $85,000 a year.”

The model, launching in full in February, can help to support members throughout the supply chain.

“In a lot of the new capabilities that we’re providing, we have done so in a way to make sure that all of those evolving relationships are well-represented,” Davies said.

MPA’s Integrated Content-Protection Approach

MPA (which shifted from its longtime MPAA moniker in 2019) has bolstered and added sophistication to its efforts to protect the film industry from the impacts of piracy and damaging prerelease leaks over the years.

TPN is just one part of that equation for MPA’s members—the part that protects film assets on the set, in the production facility, and in the cloud. MPA also operates the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), which works to protect the intellectual property of released materials such as films, broadcast television shows, and streaming programs. As a part of the membership revamp announced earlier this year, TPN strengthened its integration with ACE, making the two programs work more effectively together and adding value to membership in both organizations.

“The vendor works with us to make sure that they are prepared in the event they are under an attack, and then, God forbid, something happens, ACE springs into action to remove the content and do everything that they need to do,” Davies said.

(SimonSkafar/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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