Although Vme does not have FAST channels, the company is looking to participate in that space. “Vme has several of its properties available in Pluto Latin America, where we are part of some of its FAST offerings,” explains Doris Vogelmann, VP of Programming and Operations, V-Me Media.
Mexicanal produces around 200 hours of original programming annually. Among the most recent productions are the documentary Memorias del Escuadrón 201 (1×90′) about the little-known story of a group of hero pilots from the 201 Squadron of the Mexican Army during World War II; Tanque Lleno (12×30′), a travel and gastronomy show where the hosts tour different towns in Mexico visiting small restaurants and street vendors in search of the best Mexican dishes; the political interview show, México 2024, hosted by Javier Solórzano with the candidates for the presidential elections in June 2024, and the series Mariachis de México (14×30′). The network has 18 years on the air.
Cisneros Media will soon launch the FAST channel, Mas Talk, complementing Novelisima and aiming at one of the company’s most successful genres. They will also launch their new Venevision Play app, giving the audience access to Venevisión, Novelisima, and the new Mas Talk channel.
“Venevisión Internacional will be available on Venevision Play as a FAST signal for Venezuelans abroad. Our new app will be available for mobile phones, web, and SmartTVs,” explained Jonathan Blum, President of Cisneros Media.
HITN’s Edye SVOD platform, targeting preschoolers, recently became available on Verizon Play Plus in the US. Of the approximately 40 channels on Verizon Play Plus, three or four are Hispanic, with Edye the only one aimed at preschoolers.
According to Guillermo Sierra, director of Television and Digital Services at HITN, joining Verizon boosted Edye, which is already in the process of technical integration with US operators. “We hope to announce other operators very soon. The release on Verizon helped us a lot because the content is beginning to have more visibility.”
Under the partnership and co-production agreement signed with Mediapro in January, the extreme sports channel PX Sports is undertaking the show El Play Room (60′). It is a weekly show that covers three concepts: gamer, which is the entire esports trend – one of the characters is a professional gamer called “El Cabra;” music, with Daniela Casábola, professional DJ and sports commentator; and sports, with Annie Portocarreño.
Carlos Mesber, CEO of We Love Entertainment, considers that the US Hispanic market is one of the most important in the world right now. “I say this because there are more and more of us.”
He noted that Latinos are second or third among international markets. “That has a direct impact on us, who are the ones who speak directly to these communities because those of us who make TV and content have that responsibility.”
Eric Tourtel, President for LatAm of Canela Media, priority is to make the platform well known in the region. Although Canela already has a presence in Mexico and Colombia, Tourtel intends to rapidly increase its reach in both markets before the end of the year and, for 2024, extend it to the rest of the countries to offer agencies and their clients regional planning.
Mari Urdaneta launched her production company 200% Media this year to create content from the perspective that US Hispanics are «100% Latino and 100% American.» She talks about her beginnings in the content industry and her new projects, such as the reality contest show with Tomorrowland Brazil and Eccholine, the series Maradona: Sueño Bendito she recalls as a very satisfying project to develop, and how the streaming industry was the first to bet on the fact that audiences are more sophisticated than what people believed.
PRODU: As a content producer and developer, how has the US Hispanic market developed in the last five years?
“The main change I’ve observed is that we now better understand what a showrunner and writer should bring to the table. We’re seeing more writer’s rooms instead of one writer for an entire show and elevated production values. You see the change in the stories and our approach to production and storytelling. We’re getting more bold. Though there are still a lot of genres where we need to be represented, I am happy to see more experimentation being done in different styles like in The Cage, an excellent SciFi movie from Venezuela. These are stories we normally wouldn’t have been able to do previously because we weren’t able to sell them, as we mostly focused on unscripted entertainment or novelas. We’ve been able to learn so much from other markets around us and are incorporating those new ways of telling our Latin-driven stories, and those stories are transcending language and countries to be appreciated by new audiences all over the world.
Exile Content Studio creates premium film, TV, audio, and digital content that features the experiences and voices of diverse Spanish-speaking communities for over 550 million Spanish-speakers worldwide. Working with the largest Spanish-language media companies in the world and partnering with award-winning creative talent, including George R.R. Martin, Diego Luna, and Benicio Del Toro, Exile has produced hit projects like Max’s Vgly, which has become HBO’s most successful original series in Mexico and one of the most successful in Latin American. Exile Content Studio is a part of Candle Media, an independent, creator-friendly home for cutting-edge, high-quality, category-defining brands and franchises built for the digital age.
Lee is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Exile Content. He previously served as the Chief Content Officer for Univision Communications Inc. and Televisa, where he led broadcast and cable networks, a film studio, streaming and digital properties.
Lee’s scripted work include the production of the film Paraíso Travel, and executive produced the mini-series for TVE, Operation Checkmate. He also executive-produced three seasons of El Chapo for Netflix. Lee’s non-scripted work includes the executive production of Who Killed Malcolm X? (Netflix), the documentary Science Fair (NatGeo/Disney+), Outpost (HBO), The Traffickers (Netflix), Food Exposed (Netflix) and Residente (Netflix), as well as Hate Rising with Jorge Ramos, among many other documentaries.
Vila oversees the studio’s content and production strategy, focusing on creating quality content highlighting the Hispanic experience with a global appeal and leveraging opportunities to adopt new formats and technologies to engage, reach, and entertain audiences across all platforms. Currently, Vila leads a team that is constantly mining for compelling, entertaining, engaging, and diverse stories and content to bring to and amplify among a global audience.
Under his leadership, Exile is currently developing several high-profile projects, including a partnership with George R.R. Martin’s to produce Hunter’s Run, a Lucía Puenzo-directed global series about reclaiming pre-Columbian art pieces and bringing them back to their original territory; and a queer romantic comedy led by Mexican comedian Manu Nna. He also co-produced Los Reyes del Mundo in collaboration with some of the most young and diverse from Latin America. Recently, spearheaded a deal between Exile and Trojan Horse Media to tell larger-than-life, stranger-than-fiction stories with a deeper meaning.
Batista oversees Exile’s brands, podcasts, digital marketing, communications, and business development. Additionally, he leads business strategy for the film and TV studio and partnerships with Candle Media’s portfolio companies.
Batista has 20+ years’ of experience in the media and entertainment industry across film, TV, digital media, experiential and consumer products serving in operational, strategy, business development, partnerships, distribution, and finance roles.
Arenas is responsible for the company’s finance operations and new growth initiatives that expand Exile’s footprint through organic mergers and acquisitions opportunities. Prior to joining Exile, Arenas was part of the founding team at Boost Insurance, a venture-backed digital insurance platform that provides full-stack insurance infrastructure through an API for companies to fully embed insurance services into their products.
The rise of AVOD, FAST, and Connected TVs is revolutionizing the way people consume content, offering vast opportunities for independent creators and publishers to reach global audiences. However, despite the promise of democratization and higher revenues, these creators face significant challenges in the AVOD/Connected TV business.
One of the benefits BB Media highlights about the FAST business is that it drives the expansion of the spectrum of traditional TV audiences and brings it closer to those digital users who consume online content, and FAST brings the TV experience closer in a digital way.
Francisco Rivera, Head of Emerging Business for SPT in Latin America, said his company has been at the forefront of the FAST market for the past few years. He mentioned Sony Pictures Television (SPT) boasts a curated collection of premier Hispanic FAST channels programmed for audiences in Mexico, Brazil, and the US Hispanic audience.
“Our portfolio consists of nine channels across these key markets: three channels dedicated to the US Hispanic audience with telenovelas, game shows, and comedies; 4 channels catering to the Mexican audience with Shark Tank, telenovelas, game shows, and comedies; and two channels serving the Brazilian audience: Shark Tank and Emocoes,” Rivera said.
Condista, representing sales of affiliates, marketing, and advertising sales for some 27 Hispanic channels in the US, entered the FAST business in the second quarter of 2021. Kevin Cross, Head of Affiliates Distribution at Condista, said they began by presenting the opportunity to several clients.
ViX launched its first FAST channels in 2019. “The reason or one of the reasons that we did it early on, and we continue to do it, is because we see an amazing opportunity to drive reach through FAST channels and engage audiences across all the major platforms. So, as a content owner, creator, and producer, TelevisaUnivision owns one of the largest libraries of content in the world in any language and certainly the largest in Spanish. So, we see FAST as a great way to leverage that massive library we have built over decades of producing content. So, as a content creator, it is a great distribution platform for us,” said Rafael Urbina, COO of ViX.
The FAST model, in the opinion of Alan J. Sokol, President and CEO of Hemisphere Media Group Inc., «is an organic transition for those having a key space in the linear television landscape but wanting to keep up with the new habits of consumers. Our experience, both with the traditional cable model and with the content performance on AVOD/SVOD, allows us to know what type of content our viewers prefer and offer it on digital platforms but through a familiar format that helps the viewer adjust to its consumption habits. It is an ideal transition for those who prefer a passive and relaxed interaction when choosing content.”
For Juan Pablo Herranz, Founder of the Spanish-language trading channel KrolusTV, the FAST space represents a significant evolution in their disseminating strategy. “By becoming a FAST channel, we are experiencing a qualitative leap in our offer. The decision allows us to compete equally with the major television networks. In the world of channel zapping, our content has the same probability of being selected, which is an advantage in a highly competitive environment,” said Herranz.
Estrella Media FAST business started in January 2021 and currently, the company has four FAST Channels:
EstrellaTV – This is the flagship channel connecting all their channels, featuring live programming, entertainment, reality competitions, daily news, comedy, talk shows, and music events.
Estrella News – This is the first-ever digital Spanish-language 24/7 news channel, keeping the audience informed and up-to-date on US, Latin America, and worldwide breaking news, entertainment, sports, and topics that matter most to the Hispanic community.
Estrella Games – A Spanish-language 24/7 game show channel for family-friendly fun and non-stop entertainment.
Cine EstrellaTV – Brings Mexican Cinema to the FAST screen through a curated selection of movies. From award-winning classics to the latest blockbusters, the channel has something for everyone.
THEMA America saw an opportunity in the FAST segment from the beginning, and last year, they launched a varied offer of FAST Channels, allowing them to capitalize on the great library of thematic content for Spanish-speaking audiences in the US, Hispanic, and Latin America. “One of our very well-received FAST Channel in the region is iTV SPORTS, which is devoted 24 hours to the most popular sports in Mexico”, said Francheska León de la Barra, VP of Marketing and Communications at THEMA America.
According to Marlon Quintero, General Director of CIC Media, all types of alliances and co-productions are on the agenda. “To see how costs can be reduced and balanced between various players leads to establishing alliances not previously thought possible.” He indicated there are different ways of looking at the need to combine the general market with the Hispanic or Latin American markets.
For the experienced Mariano Calasso, IP creator, and showrunner of Tempo, “the game is on for independent production; our work has caught the attention of the Anglo market because Hispanics in the US are increasingly strong and there are no doubts anymore that we are moving the needle in the US general market.”
Calasso has worked for major networks in the Hispanic market in the US and Latin America and is the creator and co-creator of key formats with and without a script, such as El Señor de los Cielos, Nuestra Belleza Latina, 12 Corazones, Sala de Parejas (today Caso Cerrado ) and the reality show Protagonista de Novela.
90 Minutos for Tplus by Peacock and Pinches Momias for ViX are two of the most recent projects Propagate is developing for the US Hispanic market.
“Part of our DNA has always been to have our eyes on Latin America and the world. Latin America is a region extremely rich in stories, where you can find impressive talents and stories that resonate worldwide, and what we try at Propagate is to find stories that, when told from very local aspects, can reach audiences in the world, global issues. The case of Pinches Momias is a great example because it is a story about the mummies of Guanajuato that anyone can understand. And speaking of the US Hispanic public, there can be a total synergy,” said Catalina Ramírez, Co-Head of Propagate International.
For Xianelly «Nelly» Guzmán, Development executive at 200% Media, synergies between the US Hispanic, the general market, and Latin America are a reality and, as an example, she mentioned the case of Batalla en Abuela’s Kitchen (6×30′).
“For Batalla en Abuela’s Kitchen, a family-friendly cooking competition we created for Roku, we brought the production to Colombia with Miracol as the crew. Having a showrunner, director, and producers from the US enabled us to keep the US Hispanic feel Roku was looking for, and shooting in Colombia allowed us to stretch the budget without losing any of that premium quality. That is a relationship we are constantly working on with partners like 3Ball Productions, WVE, A&E, Denstu, and more,” she explained.
Grup Mediapro has always aimed to take advantage of and maximize the different facilities and resources it has in each of its headquarters.
“If in the US we have it easy for certain services, we talk with our subsidiaries in Canada or Mexico to have synergies to provide those services to the subsidiaries that do not have them,” said Marisa Navarro, Head of Marketing & Post Production, Mediapro North America.
Vision Entertainment is a company that manages artistic talent and develops productions for the general US market and the US Hispanic and Latin America. Founded by Andrés Budnik and Liam Scholey, it is currently working on several projects.
One is a fictional series based on the events surrounding the murder of the Chilean diplomat, Orlando Letelier, in Washington during the Chilean dictatorship. The series, in Spanish and English, is in development. Gonzalo Masa is the Chilean producer. Also on the project are David Arata (Children of Man) and directors Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden. Apple TV acquired the series.
A couple of years ago, 3C Films began exploring production in the US with Cuando Duerme Conmigo, its first film in that country, and now the company is in talks to develop two projects in 2024.
“Two years ago, we began to contact and promote relationships with the US market because we understand production is much more powerful and opens up to larger markets. That was the seed of Cuando Duerme Conmigo, a co-production with the US, and now we have two projects to produce there for next year in the horror genre to film in Miami,” said Juan Crespo, CEO of 3C Films.
Karen Barroeta, EVP of Production and Development of Telemundo Global Studios and NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, mentioned that, to date, they have 15 productions in development. “One, Mujer de Oro, starting in Miami in early 2024, and working on another with a partner to start it in Colombia. We are very active in development and production, which is fun,” she said.
Barroeta, who has overseen numerous productions, including La Suerte de Loli, Malverde, Padres a la Fuerza, El Conde, Pasión de Gavilanes, El Señor de los Cielos 8, and Vuelve a Mí, is kicking off pre-production of El Señor de los Cielos 9 to start production in Mexico in mid-September.