At Content Americas today, Pierluigi Gazzolo, who was recently promoted to CEO at ViX, spoke about the importance of culturally relevant stories and the work the company is doing in its search for new partners as it expands into other Latin American countries.
Gazzolo commented that Wade Davis, CEO of TelevisaUnivision, had contacted him about joining the company after the merger of the two companies. “He offered me to come on board, they wanted to transform Univision and make it the largest Spanish-language media company in the world. I jumped at the opportunity because it was obvious the kind of transformation that could happen, coming from Univision, which really understands the Hispanic audience. However, they had not undertaken the task of looking to transform the future. I arrived at the company, and it’s been an incredible adventure ever since.”
The executive highlighted that there are 450 million Spanish-speaking people around the world who “are underserved from a streaming standpoint. All the global streamers have content in Spanish, but no one has it at scale. That was something that excited us and was one of the drivers for the merger.”
Regarding ViX, Gazzolo said that the service has exceeded the company’s expectations. “We created a product with two experiences within the same app. There is a free experience with advertising, which has had incredible growth and has a large presence in Mexico and the U.S. and is expanding in the rest of Latin America.” ViX+ is the company’s paid streaming service that offers original series, movie premieres and fan-favorite soccer leagues.
“Even though the world is becoming more competitive, and people are conscious about costs, the industry is looking at profitability, and so we need to keep growing,” Gazzolo explained. “[Our streaming services have just been born], and we need to feed them, so we will go ahead with volume but in a cost-effective and smart way. The Latin American market is very cost-effective, unlike others. The ratio of cost and quality is incredible. But we are in a learning process, and this will make us more selective about what our audiences are looking for.”
One of the ways the company aims to be more cost-effective is to take advantage of tax initiatives in some countries. “There are countries that have incredible tax incentives, including Spain and Colombia, among others,” said Gazzolo.
In terms of ViX+’s co-production work with other streaming services, the executive commented, “We are open to entering into partnerships with other streamers as long as they are also willing to venture into other markets. Not all services are willing to do this yet, but some are.”
Gazzolo then talked about the term “seriela,” which “has the melodrama of a novela, but has an additional element, like a thriller, for example, La mujer del diablo, which we consider a seriela. [They are productions] with shorter episodes and several seasons.”
Analyzing the streaming landscape and the challenges that exist to acquire a greater number of subscribers, Gazzolo explained: “It is becoming more competitive. [Streaming] in Latin America has just started compared to the U.S., but it is starting to become saturated. We are betting on a unique proposal. We want to be part of the investment of all Hispanic households because we are offering them something that is unique: An enormous amount of hours of content originally produced for them. We have done research that indicates that Spanish speakers want more quality content in Spanish. That’s the starting point.”
He added: “Another element that is part of the plan is that you need distinctive partners. It’s key to have excellent distribution partners. We have an incredible partnership with Prime Video Channels. We work together as one team. We are excited about the growth we are seeing. You must remember that Latin America is a nascent market. There is a lot of room for growth. There are a lot of people who don’t subscribe to streaming.”
In addition to focusing on series and scripted content, Gazzolo stressed the importance of exploring unscripted content. “We want to have docuseries, reality and lifestyle to complete our offering,” he said. “We already have some productions in these genres, but they are not enough.”
Regarding the work the company is looking to do with producers, Gazzolo said: “Keep bringing us lots of ideas. Remember that we are Spanish-language content only. The stories must be culturally relevant, and we will be experimenting more with unscripted content. Mexico and the U.S. Hispanic market are very important to us. We are looking to expand more aggressively into Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and, eventually, the Southern Cone.
In related news, TelevisaUnivision announced at Content Americas that Rafael Urbina will assume the role of chief operating officer, ViX, for the entire streaming business. He will be focused on all business operations for AVOD and SVOD and continue his work managing the digital business. Rodrigo Mazón becomes executive VP and chief content officer, ViX, focusing on the content enterprise for both AVOD and SVOD. Both will report to Gazzolo.