‟Today the truth is that you can see content anywhere and in very different formats. There are short, long series, and telenovelas of 120 episodes that continue to be produced. Now there are ten-minute content that may appeal to you, or TikTok, which is a phenomenon with very short content where people spend hours and hours,” said Alejandro Vázquez Vela, General Director of Content of MVS / DISH México in #PRODUprimetime with Ríchard Izarra
CONTENT IS KING
‟32 years ago, since I began to acquired programming for MVS, it was very simple. There were few media, after the theatrical, there was open TV, pay-TV -which was just in its wake-, and home video. Those were the windows. Even in those times, I had a phrase behind my desk: "Content is king," and that's the only thing that hasn't changed. Now there are different windows; the purchase has been globalized; the markets have also changed due to the pandemic, it is no longer so easy to be able to look for a product in one place, but now –at least in the last year -, all the markets are virtual,” he added.
PRODUCE AND SELF-DISTRIBUTE
He explained that before the pandemic, when he went to markets such as Mipcom he made between 50, 60 appointments, and sometimes a little more. “Now in virtual markets, one becomes more selective because you are also working on the daily operation of the channels, and if you have 15 or 16 appointments, it’s a lot. So that has also changed. Sometimes the same studios that are now producers and also self-distribute the content for their platforms, complicate the purchase a bit, especially that of large studios.”
‟Now the advantage of globalization is that we are getting used to seeing series from all over the world. The other day my wife was watching a Korean series, we also can watch series from Turkey, even saw one produced in Jordan. 35 or 32 years ago, you would never have imagined that you were going to watch in Latin America a Jordanian series. Obviously, content has evolved thanks to technology, and distribution is very important. But what really catches your attention when you're in front of any device is the content,” he added.
SO MANY STORIES TO TELL
‟When I was studying at the university, I read a famous Russian author, from the thirties of the last century, Vladimir Propp, who made a morphology of the Russian story. He said that in all Russian folk tales there were a maximum 31 points that were common to all stories. What Propp meant was that there were no new stories, everything had already been told, and that all the stories had, more or less, the same elements. And maybe this is true. If you watch a series, you might say: ‘This is a Cinderella of the 21st century or this is Sleeping Beauty,’ right? But in reality, there is always a twist and things that can make stories different and that can appeal to people. I think there are still a lot of stories to be told and that is why I continue to believe -and may the technicians and distributors forgive me-, that content is king," he said.
RI: ‟Today I have the pleasure of being with a TV professional with 35 years of experience. He has participated in the creation of more than ten pay television channels. He is currently responsible for the operation of five channels of Grupo MVS of México, Multivisión, and CineLatino of the Hemisphere group at the pan-regional level. A great buyer with access to more than 250 suppliers. He is the great Alejandro Vázquez Vela. Thank you for accepting our invitation.”.
AVV: ‟Thanks to you, I am very happy to see you… I have continued to see you, but you have not,” he replied.
ALONG THE WAY
RI: Currently how do you acquire, daily or on the dates when the virtual markets take place?
AVV: ‟We are acquiring as we go. We are not waiting for the dates of the markets. We go out to buy when we have needs or when someone comes up with an interesting offer. But always with the budget in mind, because in these times you have to do it. We are buying all year round and through meetings. Meeting platforms such as Zoom have also come to change the way of working. Before we had to wait for the visit, perhaps annually, of a distributor to close a deal or go to the markets, but now it can be at any time of the year.”
RI: And now that you mention the budget and telecommuting, I understand that you are at home…
AVV: ‟I'm working from home. Much of the company staff is still working in home offices. The truth is that all of this has taught us to be very productive. We obviously have meetings all day and every day, but it is interesting to see how you can work like this even on technical issues. In addition to managing all this part of the content, I also manage the technical part within MVS TV, and see how editors or creatives work from home. It is impressive how technology has allowed us to do this type of work remotely.”
RI: And you are considered as a pioneer in the industry, you have launched a number of channels, I remember Antena 3 of Spain, it was one of the first. The first channel for children, ZAZ, was more than 30 years ago, right?
AVV: ‟I think ZAZ was born in 1991 and, yes, it was the first channel for children. Since I started working on this, the company sought to expand to different countries and we launched a channel called TeleUno, this must have been around 1993 or 1994, it was the first channel that we tried to sell as a pan-regional base. And it was curious because I would come to the markets to buy the rights in Latin America and people would tell me: "I've never done that, I don't know how much to charge you."
RI: I remember, TeleUno, Maryann Pasante was there.
AVV: "Exactly. We made that partnership with Aaron Spelling.”
I FEEL VERY LUCKY
‟I think I have been very fortunate to have gained great breadth, to be able to program channels of different genres: cinema, series, for children, for women, sports, in short. I had the opportunity to launch the first pay-per-view event in Latin America through MVS Multivisión, which I remember it features a Fleetwood Mac concert –recorded, not live-, and a movie —Mio I think it was called—, and a week later they allowed a live concert of Rolling Stones for pay per view. The truth is that I have been very lucky. The work I do has allowed me professional fulfillment.”
OPEN AND LINEAR TV WILL CONTINUE
RI: As a pillar of the industry and all your know-how, where do you think we’re heading? AVV: ‟It is difficult to know. If you had asked me a year ago about the future of linear TV, I would have told you that with all the changes due to the pandemic, the acceleration of streaming platforms, that I was very pessimistic about it. But now, when we are still in a pandemic, but with a bit of a new normal, I can tell you that is not the end of linear TV yet, that local productions will continue, that local content will be very important. It is difficult to know where it is going, but I can tell you that broadcast and pay-TV will keep going for several years.”
B1‟The world has changed, but you have to adapt, that is the basis. If you can adapt to what you are doing, I think you will succeed. I have seen –regarding globalization- that products like La Chica Que Limpia
, by the beloved Paola Suárez, a product made in an Argentine province, in Córdoba, are now being adapted in English in different countries of the world. Or how a small production company in Mexico, of two dear friends, Ricardo Coeto and Francisco Cordero, now have series like Maradona Bendito Sueño
that will be seen in more than 100 countries. So that's what I think is very rewarding. You don't have to be afraid of the future, you just have to know how to adapt.”
RI: Mexico is doing very well now. It is the great production plaza; that's where the biggest boom is. There are people who have told us that it has become very expensive because there is high demand. Do you agree?
JVV: "No! I think it is still very competitive. Mexico offers very interesting things for any type of production. We have a super-large geographic diversity. It is a good place to produce at a very good price and there are more and better facilities. We have a project with the company to expand our production facilities there and we are working on it right now.”
RI: To provide services to third parties?
JVV: ‟Both internal and third-party services.”.
View interview here