The Week at NATPE Miami


The ramifications of direct-to-consumer roll-outs, the enduring power of broadcast, SVOD buying trends, the booming interest in Spanish-language drama and a vibrant Latin American formats market were among the trends that dominated news coming out of NATPE Miami this week.

The annual event opened at the Fontainebleau Tuesday, with JP Bommel, president and CEO of NATPE, touting strong attendance from U.S., international and digital content companies and an increase in buyers from streaming and on-demand platforms.

NATPE Chairman Andy Kaplan noted that “NATPE continues to be at the intersection of content and distribution. Our industry is transforming at a remarkable speed. It’s hard to keep up with the news. As our industry changes, NATPE continues to evolve with it as a must-attend marketplace and conference and as an organization.”

Kaplan moderated one of the powerhouse sessions on Tuesday that featured, among others, Netflix’s Amy Reinhard, Amazon’s Brad Beale and CBS Corporation’s Armando Nuñez.

Reinhard, VP of content acquisition at Netflix, and Beale, VP of worldwide TV content acquisition at Amazon Prime Video, both weighed in on the delicate balancing act between acquired product and originals.

“We continue to be excited about where we’re going with original content,” Beale said. “Producing more in this world of uncertainty makes a lot of sense for services like ours, but we still license a lot.”

Reinhard noted that “local-language buying is one of the major things we’re working on these days—buying content like La Casa de Papel or Babylon Berlin and seeing how they travel around the world.”

“It’s art plus science,” Reinhard added later about the selection process. “We’re looking at shows and evaluating them and comparing them to other shows we’ve had on the platform to figure out if [a title] will work in a territory or if it’s more of a regional focus or if we think there might be an opportunity [for it to go global]. And then it comes down to economics. Having a global platform sometimes helps us get over the hump in terms of the economics. We may not have the economics for a specific territory, but bringing a global platform and those economics to the table can help get the deal done.”

Kaplan asked Reinhard and Beale about Hollywood studios entering the direct-to-consumer game, and how that will impact their lineups.

“We’ve been thinking about this for a long time,” Beale said. “This isn’t a huge surprise. Ultimately you want to control the most important assets that you need to be successful. Shifting our mix toward original content that we develop and produce takes a very long time and a big team. That has happened over time. You’ve seen us produce more shows and [shift] more of our budget toward originals, for all the right reasons. We get global rights, we get creative control, we get to brand it. We’re well set up in whatever this world evolves to. We license from a lot of people. Our store is the world. There’s not a major studio or network that we don’t license content from. If something is off the table, I feel pretty good that we’re going to be OK. Our north star is making sure we have awesome content for our customers, whether we produce it or license it.”

Beale also referenced the challenges of starting up a new OTT service. “You have to have a great product, you have to have the right features in your service, you have to collect the right payments, you have to support the right languages, you have to have awesome distribution, you have to be on all the devices that customers watch video on, and you have to have really good marketing. It’s not easy to get a customer to give you their bank account or credit card [details] and trust you to bill them month after month. Those things are super hard to do. We’ve been working on them for a really long time. You shouldn’t underestimate the challenge of getting all these pillars right. And then doing that globally.”

Nuñez, president and CEO of CBS Global Distribution Group and chief content licensing officer at CBS Corporation, also touched on the direct-to-consumer debate. “This issue of the number of different clients on a global basis that you have the ability to license your content to has to be balanced with the aspirations to utilize your content for your own ambitions. It’s monetization versus utilization to build up your service. It’s a delicate balance—unless you’re of a certain size. I don’t think it has to be an either-or proposition.”

George Cheeks, co-chairman of NBC Entertainment, expressed a similar sentiment when talking about NBCUniversal’s recently announced OTT plans. “The company has been very thoughtful about how we go to market,” Cheeks stated. “Netflix-chasing is not a strategy. We feel excited and bullish about where this is headed. It does affect our content strategy going forward. For all these major media companies that are approaching this, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy. One possibility is you take all your originals and your licensed stuff once it cycles off the licenses and put them all in your ecosystem. Our strategy is going to be a bit more nuanced and bespoke. We’re going to look at every original production, every licensed show that cycles off and decide, where does this show belong? It might be that it belongs exclusively in our ecosystem. It might be that it belongs exclusively on an outside ecosystem. Or they might be an in-between. There may be non-exclusive models that make sense, windowing models that make sense. It requires a reinvention of that whole process.”

Fellow co-chairman Paul Telegdy, meanwhile, emphasized the enduring importance of broadcast network television. “We still have big national events with huge reach and relevance, whether it’s sports or some of the other big shows on our air. We have an incredibly broad platform that we can use to launch shows, which then live on through multiple windows.”

Avi Nir, CEO of Keshet Media Group, also stressed that broadcasters can still be relevant and impactful amid the rising prominence of streamers. “I don’t think broadcasters should give up hope,” Nir said. “As long as there is a big demand for streamers, there is also a demand for something else, for a shared simultaneous experience. This is the historical role of the broadcasters. Strangely enough, it has come back in the age of individual viewing. So when you are developing a show, you should aspire for the highest goal. You should look to see if this show can resonate and make an impact for the whole country. It’s up to us as broadcasters to aspire for higher resonance with viewers. For us, this is the main goal.”

Eduardo Zulueta, the president of AMC Networks International, is also bullish about the linear channels business. Interviewed by World Screen’s Anna Carugati, Zulueta said, “I believe the linear channel is here to stay and the linear channel is a necessity. You need the linear channel to have a shared experience. Television is a medium that establishes an emotional connection with its audience. You need those shared events.”

The NATPE schedule also featured a wide-ranging conversation between Turner’s Gerhard Zeiler and Twentieth Century Fox’s Mark Kaner about the evolution of the international content business, the fate of output deals and the impact of Netflix’s overall content alliances.

“Everyone is going to have to figure out how to have greater flexibility in terms of their deal-making,” said Kaner, president of global distribution and international strategy. “What Netflix and some of the other streaming services have done is they are paying a high price now, but for all intents and purposes, you’re never going to see another dime. The studio business, the creative community, has lived off of residuals, being partners going forward in the product they created. It’s a really interesting moment in time. [The global SVODs] are almost going back to the old studio and network days, where you can just be a producer for hire, make 20 percent and you’ll never see another dime. I think the companies that are going to be successful going forward are going to have to [forge] new kinds of partnerships with the creative community.”

Kaner also referenced the huge volume of high-quality scripted being produced outside of the U.S. The rising profile of Spanish-language drama certainly took center stage at NATPE Miami. The series Todo por el Juego, co-produced by Mediapro Group and DIRECTV Latin America, was ordered for a second season. Mediapro U.S. and Televisa inked a deal to develop and co-produce at least three original series over a three-year period. Mediapro also aligned with Turner Latin America for the drama series Las Bravas F.C. The week also saw Televisa Studios announce a deal with Endemol Shine Boomdog to develop and co-produce original series. Grupo Televisa held an event to showcase its own productions, with Emilio Azcárraga, executive chairman of the board, in attendance. Azcárraga spoke to World Screen Newsflash about reinventing the company in a rapidly changing media landscape. In other Spanish-language content news, Turner Latin America and Dopamine struck up a partnership to develop and produce three original series this year; Endemol Shine Boomdog, BTF Media and Sony Music Spain said they are developing an original drama series based on the life of Spanish musician Joaquín Sabina; Telemundo International Studios and Movistar+ entered into a multiyear co-production partnership to produce limited series for the U.S. and international markets; and Viacom International Studios (VIS) and Comedy Central said they working on the new series Ana, created by and starring Mexican actress Ana de la Reguera.

Brazilian media giant Globo also had a significant presence at NATPE, hosting a special presentation to showcase its 2019 catalog. During the event, CEO Carlos Henrique Schroder talked about Globo’s ability to connect with more than 100 million people on a daily basis in Brazil and internationally. “At Globo, our doors are completely open to the future. We are fully dedicated to our relationships with broadcasters, producers, programmers, creatives, platforms, agencies—all of you in this amazing industry,” he said.

While the biggest headlines were about new content in development, there was plenty of deal news on the eve of the market and throughout the week. Endemol Shine International clinched a new deal that brings the Spanish drama Cathedral of the Sea to Teleamazonas in Ecuador. Inter Medya licensed the drama Mrs. Fazilet and Her Daughters to Latina TV in Peru. MADD Entertainment sold Crash to Mega TV in Chile and Phi to Tring TV in Albania. A+E Networks unveiled a slew of deals for scripted and factual shows with broadcasters and platforms in Latin America and the U.S. Hispanic market. Kew Media Distribution signed deals in Latin America with DIRECTV, SundanceTV and Globosat for more than 100 hours of programming. The Spanish version of Life on Duty, based on the Gil Formats title, was picked up by Discovery Networks Latin America/U.S. Hispanic.

It was a particularly active week for format deals, especially in Latin America. Turner Latin America signed on to represent seven formats from ITV Studios Global Entertainment in six markets in the region. VIS and Chile’s Mega Media teamed up for a Latin American adaptation of the MTV format Stranded with a Million Dollars. Armoza Formats licensed the prime-time singing competition The Four into Colombia with Canal 1. Endemol Shine North America said it is working with Michael Strahan’s SMAC Entertainment to develop a U.S. version of the hit game show The Money Drop. Talpa and Acun Medya inked a multi-season deal to produce The Voice and The Voice Senior for TV Azteca in Mexico. MGM Worldwide Distribution and Televisa will bring local versions of TKO: Total Knockout to Latin America. The Vivendi Entertainment format Guess My Age has been optioned in Chile and Argentina by Turner Latin America and in Mexico by Endemol Shine Boomdog.