Mipcom: Viacom’s Pierluigi Gazzolo on Latin America’s TV build, Ramping Up Originals, Producing for Third-Parties

CANNES — Few executives are better positioned to pinpoint the vast changes sweeping over Latin American TV than Pierluigi Gazzolo, president of Viacom Intl. Media Networks – Americas.

VIMN – America’s purchase of Telefe, Argentina’s highest-rating broadcast network, and then investment in Porta dos Fundos, Brazil’s second-biggest YouTube channel, have been milestones in the region’s recent entertainment business history. But in some ways, rather than a change of direction, the moves merely hastened VIMN down a road it had long been treading. In an extended interview, Gazzolo survey many of the drivers for changes, challenges and strategies VIMN is pursuing in the region. Many are felt by other companies. Few can put them into practice, however, with such scale and force.

Viacom’s purchase of Telefé and indeed Porta dos Fundos is seen as part of a transformation of the company from a distribution to a content creation company…Could you comment?

Pierluigi Gazzolo: Yes, a little bit of history. Viacom’s founder, Sumner Redstone, always talked about content being king. Our principles have always been to own content. Of course, in the ‘80s and the ‘90s we were very strong on the network front. And we were mostly known in Latin America as a network company. But the reality is that we have always made sure that we own at least 90% of our content. We have always had the vision that the industry is ever changing because consumer habits are also always changing. We have always had the ability to not only work as a network company but utilize that content to do VOD packages to MVPDs or to change our windowing strategy depending on a particular intellectual property. For example with kids, I might give a first window to Televisa, because I know it would be better for consumer products, before it comes to pay TV.  And now with Viacom International Studios, we have the ability to play with our windowing strategy even further.

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