Less than a year since its June 29, 2021 launch in the region, HBO Max Latin America is adding a raft of new original Latin American shows to its programming grid. WarnerMedia’s SVOD service now ranks second in the region, albeit still lagging behind market leader, Netflix.
“When we launched more than eight months ago, we promised to launch 100 shows in a year and a half; I think we’re on track to deliver that promise,” said Luis Duran, general manager, HBO Max Latin America, in an exclusive interview with Variety. Plans are to produce 50-70 HBO Max originals in Latin America by 2023, he added.
New programming includes movies and series for all demographics as well as documentaries and reality shows from local and international content creators.
Argentine feature film thrillers are led by Cristian Bernard’s “En La Mira, Ecos de Un Crimen,” starring Diego Peretti and Julieta Cardinali; “Los Conspiradores,” toplined by comedian and actor Guillermo Francella and “Un Crimen Argentino,” a criminal and political investigative whodunit based on events that transpired during the country’s military dictatorship.
New series from Argentina encompass the romantic comedy “Te Para Seis” and thriller “Maria Marta, El Crimen del Country,” based on the mystery behind the murder of sociologist María Marta García Belsunce, found dead in her home in October 2002.
Shows from Mexico include adventure film “Viajeros” with a cast led by Fernanda Castillo, Alex de la Madrid and Damayanti Quintanar. Also coming is the much-anticipated Mexican version of “Father of the Bride” by Gaz Alazraki (“We are the Nobles,” “Club de Cuervos”) with a stellar cast toplined by Andy Garcia, Diego Boneta and Gloria Estefan.
New series from Mexico includes “Las Bravas F.C.” which turns on a woman’s soccer team; “Amsterdam,” described as a “comedy in which two millennials, a dog and diverse customs converge on an emblematic Mexico City street,” and “Armas de Mujer,” starring Kate del Castillo, who is one of four women struggling to survive and support their families after the arrest of their husbands.
“We’re going to step up our programming efforts in Mexico and Brazil,” said Duran who sees new programming in the near future to include a mix of local films, unscripted shows, and telenovelas, among others. “We’re very bullish on telenovelas, although we’re still a bit behind on the execution side, but with them, we expect to see a high impact on our viewership and strengthen the female segment of our subscriber base,” he noted.
HBO Max also plans to amp up its live sports offer after drawing massive viewership with games from the UEFA Champions League and the Paulista championship in Brazil and Mexico.
Original shows from Brazil are led by Brazilian film “Procura-se,” starring Camila Queiroz and Klebber Toledo, based on the eponymous book by Brazilian chick lit author Carina Rissi. Upcoming series include “Area de Servicio” by actor, screenwriter and director Pedro Cardoso; “No Mundo da Luna” by Rissi; comic book adaptation “O Beijo Adolescente” and mystery/supernatural series “Vale dos Esquecidos,” which follows a group of young people who get lost on a trail and end up in a town shrouded under an eternal fog.
HBO Max had a good start in Colombia with its first show produced there, “A Thousand Fangs” (“Mil Colmillos”), and is also the new stage for its popular reality baking show, “Bake Off Celebrity Colombia.”
Asked if ramping up the volume of its programming could be detrimental to HBO’s reputation for top-rated premium content, Duran replied: “One of the rationales on why we went high on volume is that it allows us to learn as fast as possible so that we can get to that level of quality, success and hits that people respond to.”
“We are a young organization and still on a learning curve; we’re looking at providing a balance between volume and quality,” he added.
As deeper-pocketed and equally ambitious streaming giants penetrate the region, HBO Max will face the challenge of standing out in an increasingly crowded market. According to Digital TV Research, SVOD subscriptions are projected to rise from 76 million at the end of 2021 to 131 million by 2026.
The report also predicts that Netflix will hang on to its leading position but will see its market share shrink while its rivals gain more traction in Latin America, with Disney Plus reaching 33 million subs and HBO Max topping 10 million.
But with HBO’s megahit shows like “Game of Thrones,” “Friends,” “The Big Bang Theory” and most recently “Euphoria” leading the charge, the company is well positioned to stand out.
“These have helped HBO Max create a lot of impact in the region,” said Duran. In time, he hopes their locally-produced shows will break out as well.