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Strictly Business Podcast: Raze Wants to Be the Next Univision

Raze aims to be the media brand of choice for the booming Hispanic millennial market in the U.S. and Latin America.

As he explains in this week’s episode of the Variety podcast “Strictly Business,” Raze co-founder/CEO Emiliano Calemzuk has ambitions of being the most important brand to this coveted demographic, an opportunity Calemzuk sees neither U.S. incumbents Univision and Telemundo adequately serving as their audiences age and shrink like their English-language counterparts.

It’s also an opportunity that Calemzuk says is drawing increased interest from studios and networks that want to partner with experienced auspices who have the expertise programming to this market, from YouTube to Facebook.

“Compared to any other digital media company that puts content on social media, our engagement sometimes doubles the average,” he said. “We’re very excited about creating a combination of content and audience fit that we think we have a long path to continue to exploit.”

Raze is doing what many digital content ventures do, trying to establish its brand on social platforms and its owned-and-operated hub (Raze.tv) but compensating for the monetization challenges there by also supplying programming to third parties like Netflix, which snapped up original series “Catrina, la Santa Muerte.” Raze has also set up “Mi Hermanastro” at Hulu, a Diego Maradona biopic series at Amazon Prime and “Black Veil” at TNT.

The home run for Raze will be creating a hit franchise in an entertainment landscape here in the U.S. where Latino talent and themes are under-represented. That opportunity has existed for quite some time, and yet what may make the difference is imposing a level of quality on production that past efforts in this space have been criticized for lacking.

That means being adept at very different kinds of content, from the kind of high-end scripted drama that SVOD services want to buy to the lightweight short-form fare that features some of the leading Spanish-language influencers. It’s not an either-or proposition; those influencers can have their more premium long-form content ambitions developed, which could end up generating the company’s first film effort.

Not all Raze content is in Spanish, however, as shows like “Narcos” have proven the Spanglish hybrid is an attractive option for Latino viewers. Raze already has some market traction overseas; it’s just getting started stateside. The company is also bridging the different regions in a new experiment with a live weekly variety show on digital platforms. It shoots in Mexico and will soon have a Los Angeles-based component as well.

“We can own one hour of this demographic daily across all Latin America and the U.S.,” said Calemzuk. “It’s an ambitious goal but it’s something no other broadcaster has been able to do.”

Listen to the full interview with Calemzuk:

Strictly Business is Variety‘s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of entertainment. Listen to the podcast below for the full interview, or check out previous “Strictly Business” episodes featuring comedian/actor/producer Kevin Hart, ICM Partners agent Esther Newberg, and HBO chairman/CEO Richard Plepler. A new episode debuts each Tuesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and SoundCloud.

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