Taking its cue from market leader Netflix, Televisa’s fledgling SVOD service Blim continues to ramp up its original content in a bid to grow its subscriber base, enlisting award-winning director/producer Michel Franco of Mexican shingle Lucia Films to develop an original series. Franco has made a pilot in the vein of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” starring “Seinfeld” co-creator Larry David as a fictional version of himself.
Blim has some catching up to do. Launched in February this year to reach the entire region (except Brazil) on smartphones, tablets, computers, and android TVs, Blim has to contend with market leader Netflix, in the region since 2011, and local rival Clarovideo, owned by billionaire Carlos Slim’s telco America Movil.
Subscriber figures are difficult to obtain but according to leading Buenos Aires-based consultancy and market research company Business Bureau (BB), Netflix has 4.9 million total users in Mexico, including non-paying subscribers, while ClaroVideo claims 3.3 million and Blim has one million users.
“The focus is on users, not subscribers,” said BB president Horacio Gennari, and by comparing Netflix’s claim of five million subscribers in the whole region, “it serves to shed a light on the growing importance of the account-sharing phenomenon (and Netflix in Mexico is quite affected by this),” he added.
All platforms have increased their subscriber base in the past year, according to BB. In terms of subscription growth, Mexico is the most developed country in the region, per the company. “Among households with internet connection, 78% consume online content, whereas 51% view at least one SVOD,” it reported.
In Franco’s 13-episode farcical comedy series “El que se enoja pierde,” producer Pedro Damian, best known for making Televisa’s hit youth-targeted series “Rebelde,” plays a fictionalized version of himself as a producer who’s about to lose his job, and turns to established Televisa talent like comic Eugenio Derbez (“Instructions Not Included”) to help him revive his career. Derbez plays a few scenes in the pilot as himself.
The series is a change for Franco, whose acclaimed feature films tend to deal with weightier topics, such as the issue of terminal illness in his 2015 Cannes best-screenplay winner “Chronic,” or bullying drama “After Lucia,” which took home Cannes’ 2012 Un Certain Regard prize.
Franco has been location scouting for his next feature, details of which he declined to reveal.
“I’ve always wanted to make a comedy,” said Franco, adding: “When I watch TV, I only watch comedies and soccer.”
Blim has commissioned a slew of original content from several of Mexico’s top filmmakers. In June, it inked Lemon Films, run by Fernando and Billy Rovzar, which is producing two dramedies for Blim. Franco’s Lucia Films partner, Gabriel Ripstein, director of the award-winning “600 Miles,” is in talks to make a drama series for Blim, as are other prominent filmmakers in Mexico. In January, Blim will bow a new teen live-action series starring Laura Esquivel, “Love, Divina,” a co-production between Argentina’s Pol-ka, Televisa, and Paris-based Federation Kids & Family.
OTT pricing strategy in Mexico:
Netflix: $9.99. It has been increasing one dollar per year for the basic plan in the last two years. Offers 30-day free trial.
Blim: $5.83. Offers 30-day free trial.
ClaroVideo: $3.69. Offers 30-day free trial only to Claro clients.
ClaroVideo: 4,751 movies/715 TV series
Netflix: 3,055 movies/694 TV series
Blim: 396 movies/240 TV series