Rio2C 2022, one of Latin America’s largest entertainment industry trade meet wrapped May 1 reflecting the huge competition between streaming players in Brazil, the region’s main market.

The first in-person Rio2C since 2019 featured sessions with over 200 market players, including Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, HBO Max and local giant Globoplay, which are said to figure in this order on informal Brazil’s SVOD market rankings, as companies do not disclose subscription figures.

Even though Brazil has a population of 214 million, only about 20 million pay for video content, noted Fabio Lima, founder and CEO of local Sofa Digital, a VOD aggregator. 

It is not for lack of interest – 100 million Brazilians or more watch free-of-charge videos on YouTube and telenovelas on free-to-air TV –  but of money, in a country where income is highly concentrated and the majority of the population has to cope with severe economic crisis.

“In order to break this 20 million growth barrier, streaming companies will have to offer Brazilian content in Portuguese with extremely high appeal for the local audiences,” Lima told Variety.

He speculated that the favorite genre could be an evolution of  telenovelas, which have a long tradition in Brazil dating back to radio dramas. Now being made, what some call “elevated soap operas” have fewer episodes and incorporate some sophisticated features of series.

If so, Globoplay, the streaming arm of Brazil’s number one media group Globo, has a competitive advantage to fight the world giants operating here. Since the 1970s, Globo is by a large head the free-to-air TV leader in Brazil and one the world’s top telenovela producers.

“We have never faced this type of competition,” Erick Bretas, Globo’s director for digital content and pay TV, told Variety. “Our differential is local content. No other company knows the Brazilian audience as we do.”

Globoplay has already launched multiple original telenovelas with fewer episodes. The highest-profile, Hidden Truths (“Verdades Secretas”) had 64 episodes for its first season and the second one with 50, while a regular Globo telenovela usually has 150 to 180 episodes. Joao Emanuel Carneiro will write the next Globoplay telenovela, Bretas said.

As Globoplay’s portfolio of U.S. and international shows is considerably inferior to the ones of its competitors, local telenovelas seem to be only way to improve its undesirable fifth position in the local SVOD ranking.

“Globo likes to be the leader. We will seek the market leadership,” Bretas maintained.

In Rio2C, Globoplay announced six original productions. The list of features includes Breno Silveira’s “Dona Vitória,” starring Fernanda Montenegro; “Enterre Seus Mortos,” from Marco Dutra and Caetano Gotardo, with Selton Mello; and Walter Salles’ “Ainda Estou Aqui.”

The series are “Rainha,” a Gullane production about TV show host icon Xuxa; “dr4g0n,” produced by Casa de Cinema; and “O Jogo Que Mudou A História,” a Rio-set organized crime thriller.

Netflix is currently a solid market leader. The company has produced local original shows in Portuguese language in Brazil for the past six years and, now driving into regional production in Brazil, gradually building its catalog of local content.

In Rio2C, the company announced a still untitled fictional, four-episode miniseries about the Candelaria Massacre, the 1993 slaughtering of eight children and teenagers in Rio, which will have Luis Lomenha as showrunner. Elisabetta Zenatti, Netflix’s VP of content for Brazil, also announced the second season of sitcom “A Sogra Que Te Pariu,” starring Rodrigo Sant’Anna.

“We have learned a lot with our local partners and will increasingly invest in Brazilian stories,” Zenatti told Variety. “There has always been a lot of competition, and it helped us to be better.”

Amazon’s Prime Video holds a comfortable second market ranking position. Since its deployment in Brazil in Sept. 2019, it has made 20 local original productions: four features and 16 series.

The company has established in Brazil overall and first-look deals with selected talent, a model similar to the one it has in the U.S. At Rio2C, Amazon announced overall deals with director Susana Garcia and screenwriter Adriana Falcao and a first-look deal with comedian actress Fabiana Karla. They will join overall deal signees actor Lazaro Ramos and actress Ingrid Guimaraes, star of the hugely popular “Head Over Heels” movie franchise.

Malu Miranda, Amazon Studios’ head of original content for Brazil, said it had no plans to make telenovelas in Brazil. The company’s production strategy relies on innovation, inclusion and diversity.

“It is pointless to make more of the same. We want to make content to draw people who currently do not subscribe to any streaming service,” Miranda told Variety. “Inclusion and diversity are good for business.”

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Untitled new Netflix Brazilian miniseries Courtesy of Netflix