Netflix, Kond, Losbragas’ ‘Sintonia’ Seeks to Synch with Brazil’s YouTube Crowd

Is Netflix too square, or too costly, for most young Brazilians? Or just not the place where they’d ever sample cool Brazilian content?

The U.S. streaming giant may soon find out. Simply put, its latest Brazilian series, “Sintonia,” launched globally Aug. 9, can be seen as an acid test of Netflix’s ability to leverage original series in order to grow its audience outside the U.S. in a core demographic: Young adults.

As established players, especially in Europe, target more mature audiences, Netflix’s future, identity and part subscriber appeal as a company depends to an extent on such success.

Already, six of the Netflix’s 15 Brazilian Original Series broadly target the YA crowd with futuristic, fantasy and horror plays, whether teen dystopian thriller “3%” now in its third season; “Reality Z,” reworking Charlie Brooker’s comedic zombie bloodbath “Dead Set”; or “Boca a Boca,” just announced, a teen contagion thriller.

Produced by Netflix and Losbragas, “Sintonia” goes straight for the YA jugular.

The six-part series is co-created and co-directed by 30-year-old musicvid producer Kond, born Konrad Dantes, whose Canal KondZilla, ranks as the tenth-most subscribed YouTube channel in the world, with 50.7 million subscribers and an accumulated 25.6 billion views, according to Social Blade. Kond has built his following producing and playing musicvids from various sub-genres of Brazilian funk which are meant to entertain, but have a social edge.

His channel, he told Variety in March 2018, when it announced the show, is “a mix between the situation we’re living right now in Brazil, which is really tense, and new forms of entertainment/consumption in youth culture.” For Kond, “I don’t represent the traditional Brazilian political scenario in Brazil and that means something.”

How to channel Kond into drama series narrative is another matter. Most attempts to put YouTubers to work in more structure narratives have failed, says Losbragas producer Rita Moraes.“People are not gong to spend 5o reais to see a YouTuber doing what you can see them do for free.” The key thing about YouTubers, she argues however, is that they have good creative minds, and something to say to an audience they have built..

So in “Sintonia” Kond brought a seal of street creed and “a vision of Brazil and its specificities which a fair share of its young population can identify with but have not seen before on a screen. I feel we’ve accomplished the aim of their being finally represented : the Brazil of the big city outer-radius slums,” Moraes adds.

For Kond, as he, Guilherme Quintella and Losbragas’ co-founder Felipe Braga discussed how the series could be shaped as narrative, poor youth options in the Sao Paulo outer-radius cut three ways: “First and easiest, crime. If you have a strategic brain, you can become very rich.” Moraes recalls.

CREDIT: Rafael Morse/Netflix

“Then probably the church because most are born into Evangelical households, and if you don’t have money or government support for the basics you need faith. And, for a lucky cream, Brazilian funk music.”

These worlds look set to shape the series’ sense of authentic specific local detail. But the story needed to anchor audience engagement more.

That in turn in part reflects Netflix’s major gameplay: To drive up international subscriptions not only by the appeal of foreign-language shows in their own local markets but also far beyond to many of Netflix’s now 153 million subscribers around the world. It is no coincidence that every time Netflix has announced a Brazilian series, its executive -it has emphasized the show’s resonance or relevance outside Brazil.

So Kond, Quintella and Braga forged an emotional bedrock of friendship in the tale of three childhood friends Nando (Christian Malheiros), Doni (MC Jottapê) and Rita (Bruna Mascarenhas), born and raised in the outskirts of São Paulo, who fall under the sway of funk, drug crime, and the Evangelical church. That distances them. But to achieve any of their dreams, they ultimately realize that the only people they can rely on are one another.

Then of course there’s the music. “That can draw KondZilla’s audience towards us, because here he’s most certainly a reference,” Moraes argues.

CREDIT: Rafael Morse/Netflix

Doni is played by JP, a real MC from Sao Paulo. He creates tracks and performs during Season 1, as does another character, Dondoka, who steals one of his songs, played by real-life popular singer and former Globo actress Leila Moreno. The soundtrack is from Fabio Góes and DJ Zé Gonzales, aka Zegon, part of the Tropkillaz, a huge DJ duo in Brazil.

“To appeal to foreign viewers, you have to bring something that’s unique, ultra fresh, but grounded in something that speaks very intimately to people,” said Moraes. “so Felipe [Braga] opted to work towards connecting audiences everywhere eyeing the contemporary spirit of our time.”

“Audiences can first be attracted to the novelty, the music, the sounds, the landscapes,” she adds noting that the team opted to and made ample use of very wide angles and drones at the get-go. This way, the audiences can understand the size of the Sao Paolo outskirts which, paradoxically, circumscribe the main characters.

“Then you appeal to them with something universal,” she added, “which is the freshness of the youth and the value of friendship, with which people identify straight away.”

The Netflix trailer gives an early sense of how all of this can play out:

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Screen writer Beau WillimonMary Queen of

    Beau Willimon Re-Elected as President of Writers Guild of America East

    Beau Willimon, the playwright and showrunner who launched Netflix’s “House of Cards,” has been re-elected without opposition to a two-year term as president of the Writers Guild of America East. Willimon also ran unopposed in 2017 to succeed Michael Winship. Kathy McGee was elected to the vice president slot over Phil Pilato. Secretary-treasurer Bob Schneider [...]

  • Dickinson First Look Teaser

    TV News: Apple Drops New 'Dickinson' Trailer With Hailee Steinfeld (Watch)

    In today’s roundup, Apple’s “Dickinson” series released a new trailer and Netflix released the trailer for the fifth season of “Peaky Blinders.” DATES The “Cash Cab” revival will come to Bravo on Oct. 7. The game show takes place inside a New York cab, where unsuspecting passengers become contestants in a game of trivia for [...]

  • Jennie Snyder Urman, Katie Wech Team

    Jennie Snyder Urman, Katie Wech Team for Medical Drama in Development at CBS

    CBS is developing a medical drama that hails from writer Katie Wech, Variety has learned. Currently titled “Good Sam,” the series follows a talented yet stifled surgeon who embraces her leadership role after her renowned and pompous boss falls into a coma. When he awakens and wants to resume surgery, however, it falls to her to [...]

  • Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent,

    Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent, Dies at 88

    Jack Gilardi, a longtime ICM Partners agent who represented such stars as Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone, Jerry Lewis, Charlton Heston and Shirley MacLaine, died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 88. Gilardi was known for his gentlemanly style, love of the Los Angeles Dodgers and his skill at representing top actors. He [...]

  • Will Gluck

    Will Gluck Sets TV Overall Deal at eOne (EXCLUSIVE)

    Will Gluck has signed a two-year overall television deal with Entertainment One (eOne), Variety has learned exclusively. Under the deal, Richard Schwartz will continue to oversee all television projects for Gluck’s Olive Bridge Entertainment, with eOne set to serve as studio on all projects under the partnership. “The choice for us was clear given their impeccable [...]

  • Katie Hockmeyer

    NBC Entertainment Names Katie Hockmeyer Exec VP of Late Night Programming

    Katie Hockmeyer has been named executive vice president of late night programming at NBC Entertainment She will report to NBC Entertainment co-chairmen George Cheeks and Paul Telegdy, where she will work on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” “Saturday Night Live” and newly launched late-night addition, “A Little Late with [...]

  • Nexstar Completes Tribune Acquisition, Sean Compton

    Nexstar Completes Tribune Acquisition, Sean Compton to Head Programming

    Nexstar Media Group has become the nation’s largest owner of TV stations after completing its $4.1 billion acquisition of Tribune Media. The deal creates a broadcasting colossus with more than 200 stations serving more than 100 markets, although a number of stations will be divested to keep Nexstar in compliance with FCC ownership limits. Nexstar, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content