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Listen: Endemol Shine’s Cris Abrego on Embracing TV for the Americas

Endemol Shine North America CEO Cris Abrego knew he wanted to find a way to do business in Mexico after he became the solo CEO of the company in late 2016.

Abrego had a sense that the TV market in Mexico was changing and expanding almost as quickly as it has north of the border. What he didn’t know was that Netflix, Amazon and other players were about to invest in Spanish-language production in a huge way, priming the demand for high-end content from seasoned producers.

Today, Endemol Shine’s Mexico City-based production unit, Endemol Shine Boomdog, is humming, producing series for Mexico and other Latin American markets as well as shows for Spanish-language outlets in the U.S.

In the latest episode of Variety’s Strictly Business podcast, Abrego details how Endemol Shine came to embrace the opportunity to make television shows for all of the Americas, without bifurcating the process by language. Endemol Shine North America executives integrated the development of concepts and formats for Spanish-language shows into the rest of the company’s programming operation, which amounted to a profound shift in mindset for executives and producers alike. Some executives even took Spanish lessons to better equip themselves.

Listen to this week’s podcast below:

“It seems like a simple idea to act as one company regardless of the language,” Abrego says. “It’s really surprising to a lot of people that we behaved that way.”

Endemol Shine’s acquisition of Boomdog came after Abrego connected with producer Alejandro Rincon, who was already working with a number of major media players as the producer of HBO’s “Chumel Con Chumel,” described as Mexico’s version of John Oliver, and on Spanish-language renditions of reality hits including “The Masked Singer” and E!’s “Fashion Emergency.”

Rincon’s operation impressed Abrego. It also demonstrated how the demand in Mexico was changing in ways that would make shows produced for that market more likely to travel well to other territories.

“There was a real appetite for premium shows and contemporary storylines that was really starting to show itself (in Mexico) but wasn’t being serviced” by the established broadcasters, he said.

“Broadcasters in Mexico have been disrupted,” he said. “They’ve had to change a bit of their development process and who they’re working with. That has created more opportunities. We have an incredible relationship with Televisa that we haven’t had in the past.”

“Strictly Business” is Variety‘s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of entertainment A new episode debuts each Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher and SoundCloud.

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