Francisco Ramos, VP of Spanish-language Originals for Netflix in Latin America, headlined a Ventana Sur chat on Wednesday, joined virtually by Latin American industry journalist Nicolás Smirnoff, managing partner of Editorial Prensario and director of Prensario International and Prensario TI Latin America.
Titled Netflix, between the Pandemic and the New OTT Ecosystem, the talk focused on how the global SVOD platform is addressing several factors to continue its growth during and post-pandemic in an atmosphere of increasing competition as the boom of global and regional players continues.
The executive started the talk by acknowledging the uptick in content consumption under COVID-19, saying, “We all know that entertainment in all its formats and platforms has increased during the pandemic.”
“People are staying inside to keep safe, and they are discovering and enjoying new content from all over the world, every part of the world. That’s the advantage at Netflix. We have productions from everywhere,” he added before going into a laundry list of Latin America-produced film and TV content released by the streamer last year.
Much of Ramos’ 25-minute talk was dedicated to promoting Netflix as a true global entity which not only brings unique, local and authentic content from remote parts of the world to its users, but offers creatives the opportunity to share their work with the farthest corners of the world.
Discussing his own commissions which have found legs outside of Latin America, Ramos admitted, “I was surprised, overwhelmed even by how Latin American series released during the pandemic made an impact outside of South America. Productions such as “Oscuro Deseo” or “Control Z” which worked great in Europe and parts of Asia.”
He noted that the reverse was true as well, citing European programs like Germany’s “Barbarians,” and “Quicksand” from Sweden which have been popular with South American audiences.
When asked about his primary concerns as a commissioner, Ramos insisted that “the most important thing is the creator’s point of view. We want our product to have a different look, a local authenticity. That’s what works for us with local audiences, and what allows a product to travel.”
As economic situations fluctuate due to the pandemic and other pre-existing circumstances, households often must be picky in choosing what content they’re willing to pay for. To that end, Ramos spoke highly of Netflix’s working relationship with Latin American broadcasters.
“For us, working with bundles in Latin America is vital, and we have a team specifically for that,” he explained. “We believe we have an obligation to carry out any commercial activities that provide increased accessibility to the most members and potential members possible.”
Without citing any specific projects or new productions, Ramos did say that one initiative for his team in 2021 is to do more in documentaries, for both series and films.
“That’s at the forefront right now. We’re excited to show different visions behind the camera,” he said. “That’s what excites and drives us because we believe that’s how to diversify our offering and create the feeling that we have something for everyone. The truth is that not everything Netflix makes is for everyone, but we want everyone to find something they like. That’s only possible if we increase the number and kinds of people working behind the camera.”
Wrapping up with one final unprovoked thought, Ramos emphasized, and not for the first time, the need to “Protect and empower our talent. We need to understand that without that talent, our job is impossible, so we need to back the people with the best ideas.”