ViX’s Pierluigi Gazzolo

Since its launch just over two years ago as a free service, ViX has significantly and positively contributed to the financial results of TelevisaUnivision, not only with high subscriber numbers but also through its free and paid ViX Premium tiers and its offering of 70,000 hours of content. It generated more than $700 million in revenue last year. Earlier this year, the service launched an intermediate level for ViX Premium, which includes advertising and continues to expand its offerings of originals and live sports. TelevisaUnivision’s streaming business, led by CEO Pierluigi Gazzolo, is one of the jewels in the company’s portfolio, continuing to lead through partnerships with renowned talents such as Eugenio Derbez and Salma Hayek to bring Spanish-language titles especially created for Hispanic audiences worldwide. In this interview, Gazzolo discusses the challenges and opportunities since launch, the advantages of the service, the production of original content and the importance of talent.

WS: How has the ViX platform performed since launch? What have been the challenges and opportunities?
GAZZOLO: The performance has been incredible. In recent reports, we’ve discussed the reach we had in AVOD through ViX Gratis, which had about 40 million monthly active users in October 2023, although that number is now even higher. In SVOD, we announced 7 million subscribers in the last quarter of 2023, which is also currently higher, and in a year and a half, we built a $700 million business in ViX. That number has also grown. In two years, we went from zero to almost $1 billion. That says it all.

As for the opportunities, they remain the same. We have a unique proposition: Offering the best content made by and for Spanish speakers, in addition to soccer rights. The other opportunity is that we have a free service and a paid one. We’re using our own platform to move the audience from free to paid, which helps us a lot financially because we must invest heavily in marketing. As for the challenges, the industry remains highly saturated, with a very broad offering for consumers. It’s not easy, but because of our uniqueness, we’ve been able to break through those barriers.

WS: ViX Premium launched an ad-supported version. Tell us about the different subscription options and the features of this new tier.
GAZZOLO: Now, we have two products in one: ViX Gratis, where you have the VOD library and live channels, offering about 70,000 hours of content, [and] then [we] have ViX Premium, where you have an additional 10,000 hours of incremental original content, with over 7,000 more hours of sports. The first thing I want to clarify is that we are one of the few services that have an ad-supported tier and another without ads, and they are completely different. Now, we’re going to take the Premium and also launch an intermediate tier in terms of price, with ads, only in the U.S. But it’s the same Premium that has those additional 10,000 hours, plus the 70,000 that already exist in the free and subscription levels, but with ads.

WS: What are ViX’s advantages compared to other streaming services dedicated to Hispanic audiences, including those from large media conglomerates?
GAZZOLO: There are three differences. The first one is that we know Hispanics and know how to speak to them. ViX’s consumers don’t care if it’s Televisa or Univision, but they are already realizing that we know how to communicate with them, meaning we understand Latin Americans, respect them and know exactly the type of content they want to see. That’s what sets us apart from other services.

The second differentiator, which is very important, is that we are not a streaming disguise of our channels, as is the case with other services that come from television channels. If you notice, what you’re seeing [in the vast majority] is television content. I would say that 80 percent or a little more of our content complements what we have on the channels.

The third difference is that now streamers are selling advertising through subscription, while we have ViX Gratis. That way we bring people from the AVOD service to SVOD, something that no other platform has.

WS: How have you strengthened ViX’s original production offering? How has it expanded its reach, in terms of global presence, through international sales?
GAZZOLO: We are expanding more and more to what people want to see on ViX. In the first year, we launched 70 originals. For example, Lalola [is] a comedy that has been a success. We also have Ellas soy yo, Gloria Trevi, which is the artist’s biopic, [and] El gallo de Oro, a melodrama starring Lucero. Montecristo is already in Brazil with Globo, Travesuras de la niña mala was launched in Poland, and Los artistas: Primeros Trazos and La Rebelión reached Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. There’s also El dentista with Movistar Plus+. We continue to make great progress in terms of international expansion.

WS: What partnerships are you currently working on to continue developing original content for the platform?
GAZZOLO: I’m very excited about El extraño retorno de Diana Salazar. It’s an in-house project based on the original novel of the same title. It stars Angelique Boyer and Sebastián Rulli. So, here you have a real-life couple working on a famous novel, and we’re making it more contemporary. Another project is Consuelo, which comes from The Mediapro Studio and stars Cassandra Sánchez-Navarro. It tells the story of a woman in the 1950s in Mexico who loses everything. She divorces, doesn’t have much money and decides she’s going to sell sex toys, and her name is Consuelo. I’m excited about La casa de los famosos. We also have the Copa América and the UEFA EURO. It’s important to remember that we acquired the production company Argos, so we’ll be producing much more in-house.

WS: What is the importance of talent for the success of a production on ViX?
GAZZOLO: Talent is extremely important. We’ve had series that have done well without having great talent. But with the majority, we’ve had success. An example is Radical, the movie with Eugenio Derbez, and another case has been El gallo de oro with Lucero. So, talent is key. Talent is approaching us more and more because they appreciate what we’re doing for the Latin American entertainment industry. Many believed in our project from the moment we launched. Names like Eugenio Derbez and Salma Hayek chose us as their first option agreement. The truth is that it hasn’t been difficult [to work with recognized talent] because there are few platforms that give Spanish content the space it deserves. We also have a lot of internal talent that sees ViX as the next step in their career.

WS: You are currently working with RCN on what has been a new edition of La casa de los famosos Colombia, an adaptation of Big Brother. What have you learned from this experience?
GAZZOLO: La casa de los famosos Colombia has been our star, and in Mexico, it has been a monster. It’s [topped] ratings on Canal RCN in Colombia. On ViX, we’re also doing very well. The only problem is that in Colombia, we underestimated piracy. Unfortunately, the digital feed is heavily pirated, but we’re working on it. We’re going to continue to see more [of] La casa de los famosos. We’ve already discovered that reality and competition formats work very well, so we’ll continue working on them.

WS: How has the offering of live sports continued to grow? What role has it played in increasing subscriptions for the service?
GAZZOLO: I would say that approximately 30 percent of both consumption volume and new subscriptions have come through sports, meaning they have been extremely important. The strongest content we have and what has attracted the most, particularly in Mexico and the U.S., is Liga MX, although in the U.S., the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Nations League are also important. This summer, we have the UEFA EURO, in addition to the Copa América. The Olympics are also coming to Mexico, so there’s a lot to see.