Sofia Vergara will lend a hand as Spanish-language media giant TelevisaUnivision moves deeper into the world of streaming.
The popular actor, recognized for her turns in ABC’s “Modern Family” and NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” will create an animated series for the company’s new ViX streaming services, which has an ad-supported tier as well as a premium subscription level. Vergara will create and lend her voice to “Koati, The Series,” an original animated program based on the recent movie centered on a family of exotic animals who live in the rainforests of Latin America. The show is aimed at families with children between the ages of 2 and 7.
Her series is one of a number of offerings from prominent Spanish-speaking celebrities who are working with ViX, according to Pierluigi Gazzolo, he company’s president and chief transformation officer. Eugenio Derbez, Salma Hayek, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Selena Gomez are also developing content for ad-supported ViX and premium service ViX+.
While other streaming outlets have produced series in Spanish, Gazzolo says none of them have the sheer volume of content that the parent company is putting into ViX. Univison and Grupo Televisa late last year completed a $4.8 billion deal and vowed to create a new streaming outlet out of one Univision had already launched called PrendeTV. The absence of volume of Spanish-language series, says Gazzolo, “really leaves what we call a meaningful open lane” that “we definitely can go after.” The actors, he says, “are finally so happy someone is targeting their community. We know our audience. We konw the difference between a Colubmian and a Mexican and a Puerto Rican.”
The company has a unique vision for its streaming product. A subscription to the premium ViX+ tier includes access to its ad-supported offerings — meaning that people who sign on for a level of commercial-free programming may still see ads in those parts of the service designed to run with commercials.
“There is premium content and sports with no ads,” says Gazzolo, but those subscribers can “look at news, sports and series with ads.”
Executives at TelevisaUnivision say their streaming outlet is different than the ones built by its English-language counterparts. “We went into streaming because it was a destination for our consumers, not because we needed it” to generate impressions to offset shortfalls in linear ratings, says Donna Speciale, president of U.S. sales and marketing for TelevisaUnivision. “We didn’t need it. Our audience craved it.” Speciale says her broadcast network’s linear ratings “are through the roof,” and notes, “there is no other media company that is going to say that. None.”
The ad load for ViX “will be fluid,” says Gazzolo, so that executives can tailor the consumer experience around various pieces of programming. But Speciale says ViX will offer many of the formats with which streaming advertisers have become familiar, including ads that show up during specific kinds of behavior, like binge-watching and pausing. Others will be interactive and allow for shopping and e-commerce.
TelevisaUnivison also recently unveiled Así Studios, an in-house Spanish-language production facility for advertisers
Speciale says her goal is to continue to win over advertisers who previously have not considered Spanish-language media. “We brought in over 200 advertisers and clients this past year who were not advertising to the Hispanic market, so we are finally making some progress,” she says. “There is still so much more to do.”
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