As chairman, Endemol Shine Americas and CEO, Endemol Shine North America, Cris Abrego oversees both the North American and Latin American divisions of Endemol Shine Group. Since he added oversight to the company’s Latin American biz in January 2016, Abrego has sought to streamline operations by optimizing Endemol’s production hubs in Mexico and Brazil. Endemol Shine’s newest studio, Mexico City-based Endemol Shine Boomdog, which recently tapped seasoned Mexican producer Leo Zimbron to head its new scripted programming unit, produces original content for both the U.S. Hispanic and Mexican markets. Endemol Shine Brazil also launched a new scripted and documentary unit. Born in Los Angeles of Mexican parents, Abrego is among the highest-ranking Latinos in the biz.
Abrego oversees all of Endemol Shine North America’s programming, including hits such as “Big Brother” (CBS), “MasterChef” (FOX), “Fear Factor” (MTV), “MasterChef Latino” (Telemundo), “Mira Quién Baila” (Univision) and the upcoming launch of “Utopia” (Amazon Prime), “Deal or No Deal” (CNBC), “Family Food Fight” (ABC), “LOL: Last One Laughing” (Amazon) and “The Masked Singer” (Fox).
He also leads Endemol Shine North America’s portfolio of production companies, including Authentic Entertainment, Truly Original and 51 Minds Entertainment.
Additionally, Abrego has oversight of Endemol Shine Latino, the company’s Spanish-language sales and development arm that leads all programming initiatives across Latin America. As Latin America promised to be one of the active regions at Mipcom, in production announcements, alliances and sales, Abrego gave a rare interview to Variety:
What is Endemol’s content strategy for the Latin American market? Is it focusing on premium content or broadening its range of programs or both?
We are absolutely focused on developing and producing premium content. We do this by focusing our efforts and attention in three areas:
First, we focus on the three most important markets in the region: Brazil, Mexico and U.S. Hispanic where we have strong local operating companies that produce a wide variety of genres. In those territories, we are fully integrated with our team at Endemol Shine North America and we develop both original content and utilize our exceptional Endemol Shine Group catalogue.
Second, we are actively targeting the OTTs. Sometimes they look to a specific territory for their content, but more often they see the whole region as one, making it possible for us to pitch, sell and produce shows that will work throughout all of Latin America — like our upcoming drama “Nicky Jam: El Ganador,” for Netflix.
And third, we have a thriving ‘license’ business throughout the continent, with many of our top Endemol Shine titles like “MasterChef” in countries like Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Chile and Uruguay. We are constantly looking at how we can increase this business, mostly through local partnerships and co-productions.
Given Endemol Shine Boomdog and Endemol Shine Brazil’s recent foray into the scripted format, what are they hoping to achieve at Mipcom? Co-Productions? Acquisitions?
We have a great slate of titles from across Endemol Shine Group globally and we are developing many new original series as well. So, our main focus is to find homes for them and in some cases, we might do co-productions. We are very open to working with the top producers in the region to get great shows on the air or streaming.
What untapped genres are ripe for exploration in Latin America? Would Endemol Shine consider horror, fantasy or sports themed programs, for example?
The great thing is that all the genres you mention are ripe for exploration, as long as they are contemporary and produced at the highest levels. We currently see our programming priorities focused on iconic autobiographical stories and premium scripted dramas as well as big unscripted formats like “MasterChef,” “All Together Now” and other titles that our company is developing and producing globally.
Does Endemol Shine have a mandate to ramp up production in Latin America? If so, how many series is it hoping to produce per year?
No, we don’t have a mandate but there is clearly a huge need for high-quality content across the region and our company is developing premium unscripted and scripted content that is being welcomed by both Latin American viewers and networks/platforms alike.
What challenges remain?
In Latin America, many broadcasters produce content in-house, making them – in some cases – both our clients and our competitors at the same time. However, that is changing and it’s becoming less of a challenge. We have great relationships with all of them and we’re finding new ways to partner and develop projects together. And to be honest, another challenge for us right now is simply trying to keep up with the needs for premium content across the region.