Amid productions being on hold and premieres delayed, the arrival of new players and the changing needs of established clients, ViacomCBS International Studios (VIS) has adapted quickly to the challenges that have emerged. Guillermo Borensztein, VP of content sales and co-productions at VIS Americas, lists three key factors that made this possible: “First, we have the advantage of owning our own content,” he says. “The second factor is the ability to be flexible to accommodate specific customer needs. Finally, rethinking the way we connect to our teams and leverage their expertise.”
In terms of meeting the content needs of the marketplace, Borensztein notes a “sustained and growing demand” for Nickelodeon content, as well as for Telefe family series and premium series from the studio. There is also a growing interest in content for young adults (such as that from AwesomenessTV or Ananey), and in local films in a variety of genres that go directly to the platform as a first window. “We have an advantage because we do not depend on a single catalog,” he says. “In fact, we always say that our catalog is a set of catalogs, which includes local productions in different countries of the region, U.S. productions and content for preschool kids, young adults and the family as a whole. The content is generated by our brands, co-produced with or directly from third parties, and ranges from films and series to documentaries and movies. It’s a unique position to occupy in the market in these times.”
From its scripted slate, Pequeña Victoria (Victoria Small), which takes a look at gender roles in a unique way, was recently nominated for an International Emmy Award for best telenovela. “It is a recognition that goes beyond the success it had with the Telefe audience,” says Borensztein. “It represents our continued commitment to addressing issues of inclusion, as was done previously with 100 Days to Fall in Love on Telefe and other projects from our brands. Our studio has diversity and inclusion embedded in our DNA, and these values are infused into almost all of our projects and, as a result, transmitted to our audience as well.”
With regard to formats, Sres. Papis has been sold and adapted in more than 15 countries, including Chile, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Ukraine and the Middle East, among others, “a feat few countries in Latin America have accomplished,” Borensztein says. He also highlights the global success of ADDA. Amar después de Amar, the original version of which was sold to more than 20 countries, while Mexico, Greece, the Middle East, Portugal and Spain opted to adapt the format.
In terms of development and production, VIS is continuing to prioritize the health and safety of its employees by “complying with the protocols defined by the organization, while we move forward with the reactivation of productions throughout the region,” explains Borensztein. “At the moment, we are completing ongoing projects or have started new productions in Mexico (Asesino del Olvido and Backdoor), Spain (Parot), Brazil, Argentina and Colombia. We are also searching for partners and clients for projects we are developing in the next few months and hope to start producing in 2021.”
From a distribution standpoint, he adds, “we are committed to maintaining the level of sales in recent months (mainly in regard to finished programming), closing the last quarter by fulfilling our commercial objectives and expanding our client portfolio.”
Borensztein is optimistic about the prospects that 2021 brings for the company. He says, “What happened this year on a global scale once again demonstrates the power of the entertainment industry—and the content it creates—to entertain, inform and accompany people in their day-to-day lives. Through ViacomCBS International Studios, as well as the different ViacomCBS brands ranging from broadcast and pay-TV to SVOD and AVOD platforms, we seek to engage our audience with the best content and the most flexible entertainment experience. This is reflected in the $13 billion per year our company invests in content. At VIS, our objective is to become the premier studio in Latin America. We remain committed to producing locally more often, partnering with the best players and talent, maximizing the potential of our properties through their entire operating cycle, continuing to be global leaders in the distribution market and diversifying our lines of business. We want to continue being leaders, from Latin America to the world.”
See VIS’s Fall 2020 Showcase here.