Brazilian Giant Globo Reveals First Results, Strategies of New VOD Service Globo Play (EXCLUSIVE)

Company CEO CEO Carlos Henrique Schroder drills down on early take-up, strategic aims, viewer preferences, commercial strategy

Carlos Henrique Schroeder, Globo CEO
Copyright: Globo/Ramon Vasconcelos

Brazil’s Globo, Latin America’s biggest broadcast network, punched 205.6 million video-views through Feb. 9 for Globo Play, its new VOD service, which bowed Nov. 3 offering catch-up TV, classics and streaming of live events.

An extension of Globo TV+, Globo Play’s innovations are real-time programming, initially available to Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo channels, and content availability across smart-phones, tablets and desktop computers. Connected TV distribution – with Samsung and LG – began in December 2015.

Globo Play also bows Globo’s 4K content distribution, beginning with drama “Merciless” and “Dangerous Liaisons,” available in the ultra HD technology. Back library content features over 80 programs, such as “Brazil Avenue” and “Precious Pearl.” Globo Play is also offering exclusive camera angles from “Big Brother Brasil.”

Concurrently, Globosat Play is offering 14 live channels, mostly sport feeds, and shows from 16 channels on demand, such as femme feed GNT, kids channel Glob (a vast range of 78 shows), Universal Channel (currently offering catch-up of the “The Librarians” Season 2’s five five segs) and SyFy (featuring recent episodes of five shows, such as “Killjoys” and “Bitten”).

As TV consumption habits sea change, it was only a matter of time before Globo ramped up its digital presence. Here, in an exclusive and first interview on VOD strategy in which Carlos Henrique Schroder, Globo CEO, gave Variety his take on early take-up, strategic aims of launching Globo Play, early audience preferences and early commercial strategies, as Globo aims to offer ways to Brazil and the world’s big brands to connect with consumers.

How many hits – viewers – have you had since the Nov. 3 launch? And how would you rate viewership to date?

Results are very good, but more than being solely concerned with viewership, our aim is to maintain our relevance and expand our content’s reach, at all times, on whatever platforms. The idea: to be present in people’s lives, to spur conversations, to become a part of daily life topics. We have been paying closer attention to the comments than to the number of views: It’s about the connection we are establishing with people, being in tune with what they want. That’s where the numbers come from. In November, when Globo Play launched, we had 9 million single user views on the Web and apps. By Feb. 9, the apps for iOS and Android mobile devices [for just Globo Play, not including GloboSat Play] had 4.4 million downloads since launch. Through Jan. 20, we reached 205.6 million video views, combining partial and full content views of our programs. One month after Globo Play’s version for Samsung and LG Smart TVs was launched, it accounted for 100,000 downloads. These are very encouraging numbers and show the multiplication potential of consumption habits of our content on all platforms. It also confirms that we are moving in the right direction: the strategy for our multiplatform content distribution is more about connection than occupation.

What are the most popular shows on Globo Play, and does their popularity say something about the makeup of Globo Play ?

We have been monitoring the performance of our programs on VOD, as well as on simulcasting, a live TV streaming feature on the Globo Play app. We can already say that on VOD, our most consumed products are the telenovelas. They are a national passion and have great appeal to consumers, and therefore, full and partial episodes are widely streamed. But there are other types of TV shows that are also very successful on Globo Play, such as the Brazilian edition of “The Voice Kids,” which had 840,000 hits for its opening show and generated a real buzz on social media – this is a good example of the connection we are trying to establish with the audience. On simulcasting, we discovered that we have a “prime time” at the lunch hour, part of the day in which we broadcast local news, “Globo Esporte” and “Jornal Hoje,” our news show on the national network.

Besides “Brazil Avenue” and “Precious Pearl,” what other classics are available on Globo Play?

Our great classics are available on Globo Play. This is another differential with regards to our VOD. Our telenovelas, series, shows, and talents are all there. As of 2010, we have added 93 titles to the Replay feature bearing the Globo label. There you can find, for example, the TV series “Dupla Identidade” (“Merciless”), “Ligações Perigosas” (Dangerous Liaisons) – available in 4K – “Amores Roubados” (“Doomed”), the telenovela “Salve Jorge” (Brave Woman) and the best telenovela International Emmy Award winners: “Império” (Empire), “Doce de Mãe” (Sweet Mother), “O Astro” (The Illusionist) and “Lado a Lado” (Side by Side).

And live events?

Yes, certainly. With the exception of a few international sporting events, which are under contract prior to the development of the platform, all of our programs are transmitted via simulcasting on Globo Play.

Would you say that the main difference between the Globo Play app – an evolution from the Globo TV+ app – is that it now offers live programming? Is the fact that it is currently available for smartphones, tablets and desktops another innovation or was this already a feature of Globo TV+? And is the offer of 4K content distribution another differential?

Globo Play is definitely an evolution of previous video streaming initiatives – like Globo TV+. [But] significant innovations are also being introduced. First, it’s a multiplatform and interconnected online experience. Our apps for the Web, smartphones, tablets and Smart TVs “talk to each other” through the Globo ID, the profile registration and storage system of Globo.com, which is the group’s tech company. These apps were developed to explore each screen to the fullest potential with native versions for each platform.

Besides this, our simulcast streaming uses geo-location technology. Very few companies in the world do this; among them are ABC and CBS. This allows us to preserve the regional content, in terms of editorial and commercial aspects.

Another important development of the app in relation to Globo TV+ is our presence in the larger screen segment. Globo Play has native versions for smart TVs of the Samsung, LG and Sony brands. By the first quarter of 2016, Philips and Panasonic will also be included. We are in the final stages of becoming a Chromecast-supported app and have also started to develop the Globo Play for the new Apple TV. Last but not least: 4K resolution, the Ultra High Definition television. Globo Play made its debut already offering consumers 4K content for Smart TVs with “Merciless,” In January, we launched miniseries “Dangerous Liaisons,” The first episode of this miniseries was made available to 4K Ultra HD TVs before its premiere on open TV. It is possible to count on one hand the number of broadcasters in the world that produce and distribute 4K content. Globo is one of them.

Globo Play will also enable us to distribute content using HDR technology (High Dynamic Range), which enhances the brightness and delivers vivid color reproduction.

“Dangerous Liaisons” will be coded in HRD as soon as the question of the different standards is adjusted by the industry.

When do you foresee connected TV distribution?

Estimates indicate that this market segment in Brazil will jump from 13 to 17 million by the end of 2016. Despite the fact that the fragmentation of connected devices poses a real challenge for development, we believe that smart TVs will be a very important platform for OTT content distribution in the near future.

Given Globo’s huge advertising revenues from its traditional linear service, why did you launch Globo Play?

We have great confidence in the importance of our content and in the connection we have established with our audiences and there is a huge opportunity here to bring them together – content and connection –at the service of advertising, making it effective for brands to reach consumers. Globo Play is a platform that prepares Globo for the future of video content distribution. In upcoming years, there will be more and more multiplatform content consumption, which will demand increasing flexibility in television viewing. Globo Play is a live platform, one that is ever evolving and developing; an app that is available for video streaming on the screens of existing devices, as well as for others yet to be created. And with us, will be brands that seek through the importance of Globo a way to potentially innovate their communications strategies with consumers.

Isn’t there a risk of audiences moving away from a heavily ad supported environment such as Globo, to binge view back episodes of, say, GNT, meaning cannibalization of the historic incumbent main channel?

Because of the diligent attention we pay to the changes in society, we are able to understand and contribute toward the current agenda of the population. Globo is a subject of discussion, and we provide subjects for discussion, emotion, culture and information. Linear TV will continue to play an extremely important role in people’s lives. It works like a thermometer of the population; it brings everyone onto the same wavelength, at the same time. Some of the TV genres that contribute to this are telenovelas, reality shows, journalism and sporting events. All of them have an important element of being able to generate concurrent social conversation in real time.

On the other hand, some content might have a greater consumption via OTTs: Short-lived series and one episode per week models, for example. We have already noticed this pattern of behavior in some of our titles. I reckon that the tendency will be for consumers to spread out there consumption over a combination of different platforms.

How do you aim to monetize Globo Play? Do the shows on Globo Play have advertising breaks, for example? How will advertisers be able to place ads on the platform? And has that happened? I believe you’re planning to incorporate original branded content? Has that happened? If so, can you give any examples?

This is the question every company aiming to become an important player in the digital world is asking! The programs with real-time transmission on Globo Play’s simulcasting reproduce exactly the same commercial breaks aired on the linear programming. Regarding VOD monetization, this occurs with the sale of ad spaces, through pre-roll ads. Our commercial department is also looking at developing mid-roll and targeted advertising. With the intent of expanding our offer to advertisers, we are also developing various branded content projects, which enable brands to be integrated with the content in a very efficient way on the platform.

What we offer is what we refer to as “providing a solution with content,” and this is our great differential. This has been the case, mainly with the short-format projects on our entertainment portal, GShow. And we want to go beyond generating increased brand awareness; we want to know how much value we can aggregate to the brands’ strategies. We generate relevant content and distribute it to people and their families. We are a quality bridge connecting advertising brands and their agencies with consumers in their communications strategies. This capacity of generating relevant content is our best asset.

Are you commissioning Web-only TV productions?

The production of Web-only content is something Globo has been doing for over a decade. We’ve had successful cases with the extended episodes of the telenovela “Passione” (2010), the webdoc “Amor à Vida” (“Trail of Lies,” 2013), the music video “Empreguetes,” from the telenovela “Cheias de Charme” (“Sparkling Girls,” 2012) and recently we promoted a transmedia storytelling for the launch of “Mister Brau,” which was out on the Internet even before its premier on linear TV. Last year, in an unprecedented initiative, we launched episode zero of the telenovela “Totalmente Demais,” exclusively in the digital environment. The video received 700,000 views on Globo Play and GShow. New technological platforms make new projects viable and we’ll definitely see more digital-first and digital-only experiences in the near future. The challenge for Globo, content producers and broadcasters worldwide is to find economic models of relevant content in which linear and nonlinear TV complement each other, while exploiting the full potential of each one. Not only should linear and nonlinear TV be fully explored, but also a combination of the two. We want to make the most of everything these two worlds have and don’t have in common!