With no fewer than five major announcements concerning production, distribution and development deals, Turner Latin America has undoubtedly been one of the busiest and most trend-setting companies at Natpe 2019, which has shown how well established the company’s original production strategy implemented two years ago currently is.
"What has come to fruition in this market, which didn’t in previous years, is our sowing the seeds of potential partnerships to work with other companies. Nowadays, all those seeds we have sown over the past two years are beginning to bear fruit."
The words of Tomás Yankelevich, Turner Latam’s EVP & Chief Content Officer of General Entertainment, illustrate what a great moment this is for the company.
"We’re very happy with the deals we have closed. We have a scripted content development team that we finished putting together during last year’s Natpe. One year later, we have struck some development deals. We have even formed some production partnerships,” Yankelevich stated.
"Original content is important for us, basically because our company deals with slating content that reaches audiences, and when you do not possess fully original content, your acquisitions end up becoming a commodity. There is no exclusivity or originality, even though that kind of content still performs decently,” he added.
That is the reason why Turner is directing its efforts into producing original content which allows the company to offer viewers exclusive productions. Also, given the imminent launch of an OTT service featuring the entire WarnerMedia catalogue, putting out original content is a way of positioning the company for the moment it must take the plunge into the digital arena, he added.
“By owning content, you have a saying on what platform you want you want to channel it through. At present, our biggest strength is pay TV, but the future of WarnerMedia may be tied to an OTT service. We must be ready for when we have to make our content available through other platforms,” he stressed.
How is this content production boost funded? Via partnerships, and by letting their current acquisition agreements expire.
“In this industry, to be able to truly grow we must find partners, be it for co-financing projects or to exploit their creativity,” he explained.
"We’re trying to accomplish that increase in original content organically. It’s hard to go out and say ‘Give me an extra $40 million to be able to produce.’ The pay TV business is solid, but, although it is very stable and yields results, it does not provide any margin for us to do more than what we are doing. Thus, what we must do is let some output deals expire and pour inject funds into production,” he added.
The plan is to produce between six and eight original series in Latin America in 2019, and between eight and ten in 2020.
"When it comes to theatrical releases, we’re considering, given the incentives Mexico offers, to make four or five movies there. At the same time, another unit is making English-language movies in the US to offset the volume of films we will no longer get from the majors," Yankelevich revealed.
"On the other hand, our production team is rock solid, mainly in unscripted and entertainment formats. It mostly provides content to FTA broadcasters. We have been very successful in Argentina and Chile and we are now deploying it in Mexico, Peru, Colombia. Brazil is another territory we are considering doing something with.”