On the day of the launch of the ViX+ Spanish-language streaming service in the US, Mexico and Spanish-speaking Latin America, Executive Vice President and General Manager Rodrigo Mazón speaks with Screen about what to expect and the broadcast landscape.
The platform owned by the American and Mexican entertainment giant TelevisaUnivision kicks off with more than 10,000 hours of entertainment, news and sports. More than 70 ViX+ original series and movies will air in the first year.
ViX+ costs $6.99 per month in the US and MX$119 (about $5.80) in Mexico and is available as an app and can be found on select connected TV and digital subscription platforms.
A Mexican-American based in the US, Mazon started at MGM in 2001 and has worked in broadcast for the past decade. He was chief content officer at Hulu, where he launched Hulu Latino, and spent the last six years at Netflix, most recently as vice president of content, where he and his team acquired or produced hit shows like money theft (The Money Heist) Y El Chapo.
How long has ViX+ been in the planning?
We did this in record time, about a year, maybe 18 months, but really it was in the last 12 months that the team came together… We’ve built the product from scratch to put together a roster of over 70 originals. which will premiere in the first year of the service, a very large acquisition library, as well as the entire library of the TelevisaUnivision vault.
I’ve been fortunate to work in great places, but for me this was very personal because, as a Mexican-American, what matters most to me without a doubt is elevating Latino storytelling and creators here in the US and in Latin America. and around. the world.
What are some launch titles you’re excited about?
We have a beautifully shot period biographical series called Maria felix, The Mrs about the icon of Mexican cinema in the 1940s and 1950s. We will also be premiering the woman of Devilwhich translates as the devil woman and it is a thriller starring Carolina Miranda and José Ron, who are two big stars in Mexico. We also have the sign next door [Mi Vecino El Cartel]which is a three-episode docuseries executive produced by Selena Gomez that begins with the death of a person in a very safe small town near Dallas in Texas and begins a cross-border investigation.
For movies, TelevisaUnivision owns Videocine, the largest Mexican movie studio, and we’ll be premiering their entire slate from last year exclusively on ViX+, starting with Mirreyes vs. Godínez 2, ‘El Retiro’the sequel to the 2019 theatrical comedy hit Mirreyes vs. Godinez.
How often will we see original titles: film and television?
On average, we’re definitely releasing an original title every week. Of those 70+ original titles, there are at least 25 movies, so a lot of movies.
Tell us about the sports offer
We are going to be the best destination for soccer, specifically Mexican soccer, but we will have some other soccer depending on the country and some Champions League… We know how important sports are and that is another big part of our value proposition.
How aggressive will they be as buyers in the market?
Our acquisition budget is very substantial. [when pressed, Mazon confirmed the annual USD allocation “begins with a ‘b’”]. We will be launching with the TelevisaUnivision library and the update content of the [linear] the networks themselves [Univision for US users, while Mexican members can watch select content from Las Estrellas channel on the same day]. We will launch with a substantial acquisition catalog and launch with original content.
Will your buyers search for content all over the world?
Yes, we are going to go to festivals and markets because Spanish-language titles go to all those festivals. So we will be on the hunt all over the world, no doubt.
What is the appetite for streaming in Latin America? Netflix just reported slight quarterly growth in the region to 39.62 million.
Streaming entered Latin America more than 10 years ago, similar to when it started here, and the rate of adoption has been fast and encouraging. It continues to expand with improved infrastructure and broadband. [People in Latin America] they are some of the biggest consumers of content in general and in streaming. Latin America is no different than many other parts of the world; people gravitate toward content that reflects their culture, their language, and their stories. That’s why we feel so confident about a Spanish-language streamer bridging the Latino culture, though we’re going to be specific. We are going to have Mexican programs, we are going to have Colombian content, Spanish content, Argentine content, Peruvian content.
Our authenticity as the largest Spanish-language media company is a unique advantage. Specificity is critical, because people can see through it if it’s not there. And when done right, it appeals to the core audience it was created for, but it also resonates with other countries and other nationalities and cultures. The power of Spanish-language content has become real and the industry and infrastructure in Latin America have been developing for decades. Streaming can realize the potential of all of that and the borders are being removed thanks to the internet.
What is the relationship between you and your sister platform AVoD ViX, which launched in March?
Miguel [Angus], my colleague who runs ViX, and I are close. The businesses live within the same app and we work hand in hand with respect to TelevisaUnivision’s overall broadcast business and where we want to take it… ViX is the AVoD business and ViX+ is the subscription service and they have completely different content offerings… There are many services available, but this is the first time you will have both. [AVoD and SVoD] within a single app experience. Not only does it help us with regards to upselling people, but it’s a unique brand.
Will the platforms share content?
Our plan [at ViX+] is to have that live content exclusively on ViX+, but what we’re going to do is let people [on ViX] to test it; so you watch the pilot episode of a series and you might get hooked and then you have to subscribe.
You have worked on streamers for many years. What are some of the key lessons you want to apply to ViX+?
There are plenty of options for consumers and streaming itself has evolved, even though it is in its infancy in terms of its growth potential. This is an iterative process to continually improve the product and take the data you get daily from consumers about what they like, what they love, what they don’t like, what they want to see changed.
Great content that resonates always wins. So we have to find those hits by making enough hits. One of the main reasons I came here was because I looked at the opportunity and the resources that were going to be put behind this company and I think we have the opportunity to make enough changes to find those incredible successes.
As of today, it is operational in the US, Mexico, and Spanish-speaking Latin America, excluding Brazil. Where next?
We plan to become a global service. We start with these key markets, the United States and Mexico, where [TelevisaUnivision’s] offices are located. Spanish-speaking Latin America also makes sense from the start. No plans announced but, yes, the plan would be to expand the service over time.
Do you anticipate problems with password sharing? Netflix has just launched its fee trial in five countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
All streamers have to deal with it and are starting to deal with it to a greater or lesser extent, but it’s not a specific problem in Latin America; it is a challenge in general. It’s about having clear guidelines and policies and getting consumers used to that.
Is there guidance on subscription goals?
There is internal orientation. We’re not sharing those numbers, but suffice it to say it’s an aggressive target. We have big ambitions here. We plan to grow and grow fast, even in 2022.
When will TelevisaUnivision or ViX+ executives speak publicly about the number of subscribers?
We are talking about that right now. We are developing the strategy on how to communicate certain progress down the road.