Media pick-up of Latin America

Any business is a relationship that can grow out of love, can be love at first sight, or can be cultivated over the years, passing through the stages of acquaintance and friendship, culminating in strong family ties. It is more complicated when it’s a long-distance relationship. If we talk about international distribution – that is the case.

Each country and, of course, every company has its own unique character. Building strong business relationships sometimes takes months and years. Our focus is clear – Latin America (further “LA”) and its television market. The story is not about the pickup, though, but rather how to conquer this very exotic region. The conquest will require a long, persevere and elegant behavior because the quick tricks of “seduction” here are not appropriate at all. Probably, in order to understand the region and find an approach to it, one should start with the main trends in its media market.

It is important to understand that throughout the world, there are fundamental shifts at all levels that change our rhythm and way of life, affect our perception of information. To date, an attention of the media is drawn to such audiences as the millennials and the Z generation. Simultaneously, the traditions of content viewing are subject to change. Multiscreening is no longer an innovation but our time demand.

Where the broadcaster should look,
Where the viewer can watch

There are different opinions on whether linear TV will disappear. According to Cisneros CEO Adriana Cisneros (source: Panel discussion on TV market NATPE “Latin America and US Hispanic market – The Big Picture) the viewings in US Hispanic and Latin America is similar: “1 in 10 millenials in LA are cord-cutters. And 10% of millenials in the ages of 20-30 are never gonna get a cable subscription”. According to Adriana, for the first time the number of cord-nevers exceeded the number of cord-cutters.

However, it is difficult to define whether the viewer moves from one type of view to another, or multiscreening is supplemented by the newly emerged audience. In case we picture the audience as a pie, it is not like it is being cut into smaller pieces between the players, but rather the pie increases in size.

It is important not to forget likewise about the age category shift: it can hardly be argued that today’s millennial way and choice of viewing will remain unchanged like it has been all this time. This age category today is approaching the middle age – the level of 35. Thus, the millennials are divided into the younger (18-24) and the older (25-34) groups. As a separate category, families with young kids can be identified as the third one (millennials with children of generation Z).

At seemingly the same age category, we can trace the differences in audience preferences. According to the article of Guy Bisson (Director of Research, Ampere Analysis), there is a significant preference for non-linear viewing (SVOD video-on-demand, free online video) as well as for the catch-up in families with children.
Younger millennials are characterized by a dramatically linear TV viewing reducing with  a key component of free online viewing, as well as a significant increase of SVOD. In this category, there is a sharp rejection of linear viewing in favor of non-linear.

Older category (near to middle age) starts to shift to linear and scheduled TV while SVOD remains and online viewing drops away. Catch-up viewing remains almost at the same level that in case of younger millennials while the portion of VOD viewing switches to traditional TV in the form of pay TV operator on-demand. Thus, the closer the audience comes to the middle age, the larger share of traditional TV becomes.

Coming back to the question of whether the linear television will disappear, I would put in my two cents, as I always defend the point of view “no, it will not disappear!”. I will use  an example of vacation. There are tourists who love to plan everything by themselves: starting with defining a destination, finalizing with the detailed route and marks of all the attractions etc. Meantime, there are vacationers who prefer to take a tour with everything ready and enjoy an excellent choice given by a travel agency. The same for television.  At some point I know for sure what I want to watch and where I can get it. Nevertheless, I think you will agree with me that sometimes you want to be surprised and pleased with the wonderful selection of films, series or shows, without any effort on your part. Let us forget about the vacation and continue the topic of Latin America. =)

Juggling the media in Latin America

We come to the fact that the viewers nowadays have an embarrassment of riches watching on two, three and even more screens. If a broadcaster skillfully juggles             a content on linear TV and a platform at the same time, the viewer’s attention is completely absorbed. Linear television can avoid disappearing if it evolves following    the trends. “The networks that understand the business…will win in the form of simply transforming themselves to VOD providers” – says President of Viacom International Media Networks Americas (USA) Pierluigi Gazzolo on mentioned before panel discussion. Mr. Gassolo shared his experience of new trends usage while launching       a new show: the novelty was launched on the applications initially and then on TV (within 48 hours). Ratings growth on apps after launching on TV was 450%. According to VIMN Americas president it proves a multi-tasking viewing, the interaction between linear TV and multiplatforms, especially in case of millennials and youth. At the same time, Pierluigi Gassolo adds that there is no clear answer whether VOD is the only tool that people want to use for watching or they just want to watch more.

The representative of free-to-air television, Executive Director of International Business, Globo Media Concern (Brazil) Raphael Correa Netto, shared the positive experience of using all the advantages of multiscreening during the session of Content Twists in Latin America (In Spanish). According to him, historically it happened that free television and its consumers have always been considered conservative. Now the viewer shows us in all ways that s/he is not as conservative as the producers and distributors have always believed. On this basis, it is necessary to seek the mechanisms for the creation of the content that would have a success on all platforms satisfying today’s audience and would be innovative. Globo experiments with the sequential launch of content at different times and in different portions on TV channel and platform GloboPlay: a project is launched at first on television, followed by spin-off for the platform; the other one is broadcasted in parallel, and the premiere of the third one occurs first on the platform, and then on the TV*.

* The example of the series “Justice” (orig. “Justiça”) is given: the first 4 episodes were shown on the VOD platform. The next day after the Olympic Games the TV broadcasting began. The show had a daily reach of approximately 41 million viewers and a total reach of approximately 134 million viewers. Format: 20×45 min.

Content is a king that decides;
Platform is a queen that guide?

Narrative and who rules: King or queen?

Comparison with juggling was chosen for a reason: it is difficult for broadcasters. Both the search of the appropriate type of content and search of the correct place for it are risky. However, the unique secret recipe does not exist. The current trends are             the experiments with the creation, production and distribution. Raphael Correa Netto noted  a good example: the “invention anew” genres with the help of narrative. At the Brazilian market, it is enough to compare the content of today and 3-4 years ago. Nowadays, these are shorter series and a new structure of narration. For example, in the series “Justiça”, there are stories of 4 people, each is revealed in a separate episode (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday). In this case, the story lines cross.

There are five episodes for each story (20 in total). Televisa’s experience, according to Bruce Boren, Head of Televisa Networks & Blim (VOD platform, Mexico) shows that there is room for different kinds of viewing. On television these are 20-30 episode titles, on “Blim”, for example, 100 or more episodes titles are watched by older generation,    the shorter – by the younger audience.

Final determination is not always up to content. Talking about the general characteristics and differences in the markets of Hispanic USA and LA, Adriana Cisneros notes the case when the same content placed in the same country but on different stations/platforms had different indicators. Thus the best show of the last year on Netflix was the series “Narco” (orig.“Narcos”) of its own production. The worst show on Univision for the entire existence of the television network was the same “Narcos” (Univision is the largest Spanish-speaking telecommunication company in the US and the fifth largest in the country). The reasons for such a huge difference can be versatile. The representative of Endemol Shine Americas CEO Chris Abrego noted that one of the reasons could be a language version: Netflix originally launched the series in English with Spanish subtitles, for Univision it was translated into Spanish. Here the influence is exerted by the fact that the Hispanic audience, even within the US, is heterogeneous: in the western part, the Mexican population prevails, in the eastern part – the Caribbean one. In addition, the younger generation already speaks fluent English, so it is more interested in the original content, rather than adaptation.

The success factor of format and content’s essence is a totally different subject. The topic of Turkish soap operas’ success in LA is extremely interesting! The quality of production, the structure of narration, the values that are raised in the Turkish series –  all that could not but find passion of audiences around the world. Turkish production has a lot of its own details and features that contributed to the success of their content. However, that topic needs another review that is being planned.

 Let us sum up. A king or queen, content or platform? Taking into consideration my tendency to diplomacy and equilibration, and the facts above, I would say that each kingdom has its type of governance. It can only be stronger with mutual and skillful integration of all parts and members!

Adapt or step aside

Analyzing the trends, the channels of Latin America are already braking their heads over how not to get into an embarrassing situation in the future. When there are serious changes in something, the entire old system loses strength and stability. It is important to avoid a panic in such moments and catch a wave getting its crest: gain a full awareness of the situation and react correctly.

Have you ever played “hot potato”? Adriana Cisneros (CEO, Cisneros) gives this illustrative example talking about the current situation in LA: “It’s very rare for TV networks in Latin America to be “for sale” and it’s very rare for TV licenses to be available… Suddenly in the past two years there are a lot of TV networks for sale, and there are a few more coming up for sale that are really important, and there are a lot of licenses suddenly available. Traditional TV owners in Latin America are freaking out and they are feeling like playing that game of hot potato“.

At this point the US majors joined the “game”, buying more and more new assets. Such an example is the purchase by Viacom of the Argentine federal television channel and producer Telefe (one of the largest free channels in Argentina). The purchasing included the Telefe channel (Buenos Aires), eight regional channels of Argentina owned by Telefe, Telefe Internacional (the international version of the channel), multiplatforms and applications from Telefe, 12 production studios and a library of 33,000 hours of content, to date distributed in 100 countries in 35 languages. The purpose of this transaction is not a channel, as such, but the purchase of production capacities and huge potential of the channel. On the one hand, this will enable Viacom to become closer to the Hispanic audience. On the other hand, the company plans to transform Telefe into a powerful pan-regional player that “plays” on different platforms.

In their turn, the global linear TV channels make alterations necessary to keep their audience in another way. Regarding the fact that the viewer is increasingly favouring additional screens and platforms, more and more linear channels create their VOD platforms, applications, set-top-box, involving social networks and branding as well.

Summarizing

The market of Latin America and the Hispanic USA, as we see, largely follows the general world trends and global changes:

  • Audience age shift that leads to the change in content format preferences (duration and number of episodes, structure of the story etc).
  • “Great appetite” of the audience: the desire to watch the content not only on television, but also on additional screens.
  • The thirst for a new product: thanks to an unusually wide choice for today’s viewer, the broadcaster needs to constantly amaze with something new and unique. In this regard, there is an increasing need in new production facilities and talents, the ability to create fresh masterpieces.
  • Like all over the world, asset purchases and mergers of companies take place in this region. Except that for Latin America where the market used to be the family business, it is a new practice.

As for the local features of the market, there remains a place for experimentation and juggling as well as there is a need in perfect awareness of your audience and the desire to surprise it.

Once at television market one representative of the TV channel told me that sometimes it is not necessary to look for a new audience, but to cultivate your own: the viewer, who once watched the TV channel as a child, soon can find interesting teen shows on the air, grows up and continue to watch this channel. Such a broadcaster becomes a friend, to which you get used and with whom you discover and feel something new together. I definitely like this idea! I think with this approach the broadcaster will have a real dialogue with the viewer, that everyone is striving for, in my opinion.

Love your audience and find the key to its heart!

Anna Verbovska

Sales manager (Europe, Latin America) at MK-Distribution (part of MK Media Group)

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