Executives from HBO Latin America, Globo, Caracol Televisión, Televisa Internacional and Mega Global Entertainment discussed the evolution of Latin American content in a session this afternoon at NATPE Budapest.
HBO Latin America has been producing original content for more than 16 years and has long had a focus on “premium series” with production values that are in line with what the HBO brand represents globally, said Xavier Aristimuño, VP of licensing. “Recently we’ve started to do new miniseries and a lot of documentaries,” he added. “The change is that everything is more global. There is an acceptance of series from any part of the world, without any limitations—no limitation in the language or the stories.” Aristimuño said that HBO Latin America has four rules when producing: “One is that the creativity must be there. We also have to touch on social topics that are relevant to everybody all around the world; the reflection of what’s going on in society is important for us. We have a mix of actors and directors, in the sense that some are well known and some are newcomers. And, in the end, it must be for premium television.”
Mega in Chile is credited as one of the pioneers in bringing Turkish programming to Latin America and has helped to break down boundaries even further by evolving its content output, said Esperanza Garay, the CEO of Mega Global Entertainment (MGE). “The Latin American content that was available for exportation, in the beginning, was telenovelas,” but now it’s become so much more. “Mega is a new generation of production in Latin America. We started to produce this new content five years ago. We started with Turkish content in Latin America and we are open to this production because our territory is an expert in that kind of content—the writers, the actors, we have great knowledge of that kind of format.” She said that Mega is working very closely with Turkish partners to generate a new style of content. Recently, Mega signed a deal with Turkish production powerhouse Ay Yapim to co-produce a new drama coming in 2020. “We are living in a new stage of business. We are prepared because we have the experience, we have the writers, we have the talent and we have the clients for this new business model” to co-produce and co-develop with other markets.
Innovation in content is also top of mind for Caracol Televisión, said Paloma García, international sales director for Europe and Asia. “Caracol started with controversial [shows] like Sin Tetas No Hay Paraíso and new [genres] within Latin American content like narco novelas, with Pablo Escobar, The Drug Lord. This year, we offer a new evolution of the narco novelas, with comedy narco novelas, and biographies based on our popular culture. Our stories are also very much focused on strong women, about women surviving against all odds or fighting for their dreams.” Caracol has also embraced multiplatform programming, she added, working with platforms like Netflix to supply its shows to the streaming catalog as well as with original content. García emphasized Caracol’s production capabilities. “We want to be seen as a co-producer.”
Globo has undertaken a new priority to learn more about its audience, to have a deeper understanding of who its viewers are across platforms and what they want to watch. “Based on that, with all that data, we are giving our productions a different look,” said Junior Volpato, market manager for Rede Globo. “We produced telenovelas for many years, and for some years now we have been producing series, of eight or ten episodes, that are serialized.” Globo has gathered data, from within LatAm and in other markets, and is tapping into its group of writers and producers to create new content based on its findings. “It’s leading us to a different business model,” Volpato said. “It’s like there are no barriers anymore between digital, pay TV, free TV. We’re trying to unite Globo as a one-unit business. Wherever the consumer wants to watch us, we are offering the right content for that window.”
Televisa, too, has made some changes in the last few years, said Claudia Sahab, director for Europe at Televisa Internacional. “We have changed our model of production. Instead of making these big melodramas that are 120 or 150 episodes, we are now reducing the number of episodes. We are making our telenovelas shorter, more dynamic, more modern, the storytelling is faster. We have lightened up the drama, which makes it easier to watch, funnier and less melodramatic.” There’s a greater breadth of genres, with comedy, thrillers, super series and more. “Regarding co-productions, we’re totally open!” Sahab said, highlighting a recent co-pro alliance with Mediapro in Spain. “Between Europe and Latin America, in general, there are thousands of years of stories and history in common that we can find stories that could fit both sides and be interesting for both audiences.”