The huge success of Luis Miguel, la serie—premiered this year on April 22—was a turning point for MGM regarding its plans for the Latin American market, which will now become a priority region for the company in terms of original production.
“We have changed our approach to Latin American sales in the last 12 months. The big change started with the production of the Luis Miguel show for Telemundo and Netflix. That was a game changer for us, compared to our old strategy. We were focused on premium US strategy,” explained to ttvnews Chris Ottinger, President of Distribution and Acqusitions at MGM.
With Luis Miguel we were able to see that there was a huge demand for premium drama in Latin America in broadcast TV and cable as well as in SVOD. So getting new shows that have that broader reach is something we really want to focus on,” added Ottinger.
As part of this new strategy, MGM has set up an office in Miami
—run by Tomás Davidson—to focus in Latin America and reach out for production and distribution alliances.
The plan, according to Ottinger, is to produce at least two new premium series a year.
“Our focus will be very similar to what we do [in the US]: probably two original shows per year. If those shows keep continuing that's all the better, so at any given moment, four or five years from now, we might have six or seven shows up and going,” he said.
As for the shows’ themes, the exec revealed that serial biopics will be a priority, with at least one project of that category already underway.
Right now we are very focused on the bioseries. We will probably see another one like coming from [Luis Miguel’s producers] Gato Grande soon, also focused on music. That’s as close as I can tell,” hinted Ottinger.
“It's mainly a question of global appeal; the combination of very high production values delivered by Gato Grande and universally appealing topics. And it’s easy to find important figures in Latin America to tell their story,” he added.
In addition to bioseries, MGM is also willing to bet on period dramas. “Latin America has an incredible history and we think that there may also be an opportunity in period dramas as well.”
Regarding potential partnerships, the exec said they would like to continue working with Gato Grande, but they are open to new alliances.
“One of the things that our new office in Miami will be focusing on is building relationships with the best producers in the region, so we can replicate the premium drama strategy we have used for the US.”
As for clients, Ottinger praised the good relationship with Netflix thanks to the success of Luis Miguel, and he revealed plans to seek new alliances in Latin America with regional players and local broadcasters.
“We would love to do something in combination with Latin broadcasters of both free and pay TV, and maybe have a dual window,” he said.
In addition to all this, MGM’s pay-TV network Epix plans to launch a service in Spanish for the US. “Epix has been talking about launching a Spanish-language service. If we could get premium content from them that would be great, because we would have all the distribution rights in Latin America.”