×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Pierluigi Gazzolo on Viacom International Studios, the Spanish-language Market

CANNES —  The L.A. Screenings represented the coming out of Viacom International Studios, which hit the market, then Conecta Fiction in Spain, with a powerful presentation of trailers.

The Conecta Fiction lineup signaled that VIS is also open to co-production and collaboration with creators in not only Latin America but far beyond; “To Catch a Thief” is written by one of Spain’s foremost TV creators, Javier Olivares;“Victoria Small,” Daniel Burman’s daily scripted comedy drama hit is produced with The Mediapro Studio; “Bad People” with “La Casa de Papel” original producers Atresmedia.

Also on the Conecta Fiction presentation was the “Red Dot,” a fantasy romantic thriller produced in Spain; “Spirit House,” originated by “Final Destination” creator Jeffrey Reddick, and produced with Convergence Entertainment; “Before I Forget,” a reversion from Turkey’s Ay Yapim.

In the run-up to Mipcom, it didn’t seem that a day went by without an announcement from VIS or Viacom Intl. Media Networks – Americas. During that period, Pierluigi Gazzolo, president of Viacom Intl. Media Networks – Americas, updated Variety on the dramatic build of VIS, and trends sweeping Latin America, and that the boom in its programming is not just a question of language.

Could you talk about what you think are the main trends of production in drama series?

Viacom has always been an IP-driven company. We’ve always been about content, and in the ’90s, in LATAM, our focus was primarily on the network business.  The reality is that in addition to the networks, we own 95% of our content. We have always said we must continue expanding. The media world is changing, and owning IP is key. In Latin America specifically, we’ve long had the U.S. properties, but we also created content for our Latin American networks: Nickelodeon, MTV, and Comedy Central. We then added Telefe, which as you know is one of the largest producers of content in Argentina, and then we acquired Porta dos Fundos, which is one of the top YouTube channels in Brazil, focused on TV-quality comedy content. We took these three and said: Let’s put them together, and that is how we created Viacom International Studios. Since then, from the beginning of 2018, we’ve grown significantly in revenues, and we’ve produced about 900 hours of content. We are expecting to continue growing our revenues at very high levels of nearly 60% this year.

60% in 2019?

Correct. We expect to grow nearly 60% in studio revenues compared to last year. Within Latin America the Studio has become a powerhouse production house, creating content for our channels and third parties. We create content for SVODs like Amazon and Netflix, and broadcasters like Mega and TV Azteca. In some cases, we even create content for our competition. It really has become a full-fledged studio.

Can you give a few examples?

For the first time,Telefe is exporting is content outside not only Argentina, but outside of Latin America, going to the U.S. For example, we recently announced that we closed a deal with Paramount TV to produce “100 Days To Fall In Love,” which was a hit format created and developed by Viacom International Studios for Telefe and Underground Producciones in Argentina for Showtime. It was a big hit in Argentina, with a 60% audience market share. We are also having conversations with countries in Europe to sell them the format to produce their own versions of our hit novelas.

Another example of Viacom International Studios creating great content for export is in Brazil with our hit YouTube comedy channel, Porta dos Fundos. A few weeks ago, we signed an agreement with YouTube Originals to produce a new reality series, “The New Future Ex Porta Actor,” which will document the search for a new comedian to join the Porta Dos Fundos’ cast exclusively for YouTube. This summer, we launched the Spanish-language version of the comedy platform, called “Backdoor,” which has already reached over 2 million subscribers and we just announced last week an agreement with Amazon Prime Video to acquire the first season of “Backdoor – Humor por donde no lo esperas”  (Backdoor- Comedy Where You Don’t Expect It) (20 eps. x 30 seconds).  The series will feature brand new comedy sketches by Backdoor and premiered on Comedy Central Latin America on Sept. 9, with the full series coming to Prime Video in Latin America later this year.

CREDIT: VIMN

Quite a lot of the shows you were showing at Conecta Fiction are co-productions, is that correct?

Yes. Sometimes we develop on our own from the start, but we also like to work with third parties that we respect. We recently partnered with Mediapro Studio to produce “Victoria Small.”  In its first week of air in Argentina, it reached 50% market share viewing. It’s our next big hit. It has the promise to be the next format to travel around the world, similar to “100 Days to Fall in Love.” So yes, we work with co-production partners, and sometimes we also do pre-buys with partners; however, we always seek to own the majority of the production and retain distribution rights.

How would you judge the demand for scripted content or Spanish language scripted content now?

There is so much content being produced right now, that I said to myself: “Where is it going to go?” But the reality is that the psychology of consumption has changed, and people need more and more content to watch. They want more choices and distributors and platforms want to offer more choices. The average consumer has more headspace to watch much more, so I think it will continue. I think their desire for content was underestimated in the past. There will always be more demand in our view of consumption. That’s the exciting part.

And demand for a specific type of content?

In our particular case, we’re finding that dramas with comedic events, “dramadies”,  that have some sense of lightness– lead the way. Great examples are  “100 Days To Fall in Love” and now “Victoria Small,” co-produced with Mediapro Studio. Also, tween telenovelas, such as VIS’s Nickelodeon “Club 57,” are becoming popular all over the world

What about the export potential?

There are amazing writers and developers in the Spanish-speaking world, incredible production quality both in Latin America and Spain, and the stories that are being told are universal. “100 Days to Fall in Love” is a perfect example. We develop the story, so it is ready to be exported. Even shows that have stayed in Spanish for distribution like Atresmedia/Netflix’’s “La Casa de Papel” go worldwide. It’s a very exciting time, and I think Latin America and Spain will continue to be big players.

Is that because we are a very big language market?

Yes, but it’s important to note that it is not just the language. Even within Latin countries there are complexities of culture. Argentine versions are not the same as in Chile, even though they are right next to one another. Same for Chilean and Mexico. So, there’s nothing that can replace the passion and knowledge in a script. We have become very good storytellers, and I think the world recognizes that.  So when I say Latin America and Spain will continue to be big players,  I’m referring to how we tell stories and how our formats can travel around the world regardless of language.

Club 57
CREDIT: Juan Botero

More TV

  • Gloria Calderón Kellett Signs Overall Deal

    Gloria Calderón Kellett Signs Overall Deal With Amazon

    Gloria Calderón Kellett has inked a multi-year overall deal at Amazon. “I have been so blown away by the original series coming out of Amazon,” said Calderón Kellett. “Their commitment to supporting creators, specifically women, has been next level. It’s clear they are committed to supporting outstanding, quality television. When I met the diverse Amazon [...]

  • 'Big Brother' Spain in Storm Over

    'Big Brother' Spain Caught Up in Storm Over Video of Alleged Sexual Assault

    Disturbing footage has emerged of a “Big Brother” Spain contestant being confronted by producers with video of herself allegedly being sexually assaulted by another housemate on the reality show – and then being told not to talk about it with her fellow contestants. Carlota Prado was brought into the “Big Brother” house’s “diary room,” where [...]

  • Dollface TV Show

    'Dollface' Production Crew Balances Grounded Elements With the Bizarre

    Hulu’s new comedy “Dollface” stars Kat Dennings as Jules, a woman jumping back into friendships after breaking up with her boyfriend. Production designer Susie Mancini and prop master Sarah Snyder were tasked with balancing the grounded elements of the show with the satirical and fantastical moments that also exist within the series’ world.  Woom, the [...]

  • Models on the catwalkVictoria's Secret Fashion

    Why the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show Was Canceled

    Goodbye, angel wings and bedazzled undergarments. The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is officially canceled. L Brands’ CFO Stuart Burgdoerfer confirmed to analysts on the company’s earnings call on Thursday that the hourlong special, which has aired since 2001, would not be happening. Why? The official answer is that L Brands — the parent company of [...]

  • supreme court byron allen comcast

    Africa Channel Owner, Congressional Black Caucus Blast Comcast Over Byron Allen Case

    The Congressional Black Caucus and an owner of cable’s Africa Channel have turned up the pressure on Comcast, blasting the cable giant for its business practices and legal strategy in fighting Byron Allen’s racial discrimination lawsuit. Paula Madison, an owner of The Africa Channel (TAC), issued a lengthy statement criticizing Comcast for what she characterized [...]

  • The L Word TV Show Reboot

    Golden Globes: What the Rise in LGBTQ+ Content May Mean for Awards Acclaim

    The LGBTQ+ community has made major strides on TV screens across the United States. Subjects that were once considered taboo even just a few years ago, including two same-sex people embracing on-screen, now dominate small-screen storylines. Behind the scenes, writers, producers and directors who identify as LGBTQ+ are also taking the reins of series, often [...]

  • The Mandalorian Episode 3

    ‘The Mandalorian’: 5 Burning Questions From Episode 3

    (SPOILER ALERT: Do not read on if you have not watched the first three episodes of Disney Plus’ “Star Wars” spinoff series “The Mandalorian.”)   Well, that was epic. Episode 3 of “The Mandalorian” ended in a massive shootout, with Pedro Pascal’s character escaping by the skin of his teeth, thanks to more than a little [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content