Adriana Cisneros is vice chairman and director of strategy at Cisneros, the privately held, Venezuela-based, media and telecoms giant. Among its assets are Venezuela’s leading TV network Venevision and its international operation.
What shaped the Latin American media business in 2011?
Technology, without a doubt. New technologies have transformed everything from the way we produce to the way we communicate with our audiences. When we produce today, we don’t only think about television, but other “streaming” platforms as well, such as YouTube, Netflix and Hulu, in addition to other screens, such as smartphones and tablets. Technology, and in particular the Internet allows us to have a much more direct relationship with our audiences and we produce keeping in mind how we can make them a bigger part of the stories.
In summary, we thought of social television that allowed viewers to interact with each other and provide us with recommendations so that they could be more involved in the content, as in the case of getglue.com or Comenta.tv., which are two applications where the viewer is able to vote, debate or get to know their favorite characters so that they feel part of the success of their favorite program.
This is what this new way of producing allows us to do: interact continuously with our users.
Looking ahead, how will you grow Venevision International?
The commercialisation of winning in-house productions has been the driving force behind Venevision International, therefore we must ensure that our producers continue to create premium content. Also, very important and as a consequence of the impact of technology in our industry, is the way that we handle new screens. New clients, new windows, new opportunities. An example of this is the distribution of our content through alliances with YouTube, Univision.com, MSN, Netflix and Hulu, both in the US and Latin America, and around the world.
What are the immediate goals for 2012?
Our gaze is firmly fixed on expanding our 360° approach to all our content, as well as on the creation of new alliances that will allow the Organization to continue its internationalisation. We are also exploring the production of content in languages other than Spanish.
Furthermore, we seek to consolidate our leadership in digital media through RedMas, a recently launched company that evolved out of LatCel, and we are gambling on changing it into the first mobile publicity network in the United States. Not to mention our continued progress on the development of social gaming and new shared-platform initiatives.
We are currently producing a soap opera called El Talismán, our strongest bet for the first quarter of 2012, which we hope will surpass the success garnered with the audience by Eva Luna.
We are also getting started on the plan to migrate our Venezuelan production company to HD, similar to what we did in 2010 with our production company in Miami, is another of our goals for 2012. In this sense, the first concrete action is to produce a soap opera in this format for the second half of 2012.
What were the highlights for Cisneros in 2011?
2011 was a year of great achievements for Organización Cisneros, the successes of Eva Luna and La Viuda Joven represent some of the most significant as it perfectly illustrate our new business vision.
The great story and interactive strategy behind Eva Luna have enabled it to become the highest-rating soap opera produced in the United States of all time, and has captured more than two million new viewers; young people who identify with this approach.
La Viuda Joven, on the other hand, has been a success both on and off the small screen. Its interactive strategy has enabled it to become the first soap opera that has had great impact on social networks. During the final episode there were more than 145,000 hits per day. Each night the soap opera boasted more than 137,000 followers who interacted with each other on twitter, in addition to the 145,000 Facebook users that followed the show there.
Spanish-language content is increasingly influential around the world-how can Cisneros harness the favorable demographics and reach Spanish speakers outside of Latin America and what are the key goals in this respect?
Our content is watched almost all over the world, which is a product of our excellent strategy for distributing to traditional media, and the rise of new screens will allow us now to increase penetration in every market. Just to mention a few examples, we have been working with Hulu in the United States since 2011; we also recently signed with Netflix, which currently reaches 43 countries, and our content on YouTube generates more than 30 million visits each month from around the world. We also have distribution agreements with China Central TV and China International Television Corp.
What will your message be to delegates at NATPE?
I would tell them that the traditional models are being left behind; audiences are changing and the industry must evolve at the same pace, a pace that is being set by new technologies. Viewers are continually looking for better entertainment experiences and we must take advantage of the opportunities that alternative media offer in order to keep abreast of the new needs of our audiences.