"The time has come to offer innovative and disruptive proposals that go beyond our traditional business, but always focusing on content," said Laura Pérez, VP of Content Distribution for Latin America and general director of ViacomCBS Networks Americas for Mexico and Latin America North, in #PRODUprimetime with Ríchard Izarra
within Líderes México. TWO HATS
“Today I have the pleasure of being with a leading woman with more than 20 years of experience, and today wearing two hats of command and responsibility, a challenge that only leaders take: the first hat, the distribution of content throughout our region, including its OTTs, and the second, running and managing the company in Mexico, Central America, and Colombia,” said Ríchard when presenting her. MULTIPLATFORM ECOSYSTEM
“It is a great challenge to wear these two hats, but the truth is I am very happy about it. I joined ViacomCBS 21 years ago and have always on the side of content distribution and it can be said that this responsibility is not new to me. I started only with linear channels and I have seen all this transformation, and also how the ViacomCBS portfolio and ecosystem has grown, and now it is a multiplatform ecosystem,” said Laura. BALANCE
RI: "For me, Laura, being a woman has a double merit."
LP: “The truth is that I am very proud as a woman and very professionally accomplished. I had to find the balance between professional and personal life because I am a mother, I have two children, I am a wife and I have to share both. But I have fulfilled both sides, and I think this is a great example. At ViacomCBS there are also many women leaders holding different positions. Very grateful and happy to be the head in the part of Mexico and in the area of distribution of Contents for Latin America.” DISRUPTIVE OFFERS
RI: “Laura, in your 21 years (at ViacomCBS) I imagine that you have developed your own intuition of what works and what does not, but lately big data, hard data, algorithms have appeared. Do you balance both intuitions with big data? "
LP: “We believe that all this data is extremely important. I think the time has come to transform the way we do business and offer innovative and disruptive proposals that go beyond our traditional business, but always with content at the center. So we harness the unlimited power of our creativity and the strength of our brands, such as MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, Paramount Network, Pluto TV, and now Paramount +, Backdoor ...”. AMPLIFY YOUR VOICE
She continued: “Also VidCon, the most important convention of digital content generators, one of the most relevant in the world, has existed in the US for ten years, and for the first time it would be in Mexico with ViacomCBS this year. I think that's the key, amplifying our voice through all these platforms and generating experiences for our audience, such as our events that are already iconic in the region: Kids' Choice Awards for Nickelodeon, which will be held on the next 7 September; and in the case of MTV, the MIAW, which will be broadcast in Latin America on July 13 at 10pm. And now we will add VidCon by the end of this year.” PLUTO TV: FREE AND EASY
RI: I must say that Laura has been a fundamental force in expanding the channels of her group, MTV, our beloved channel MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, Paramount Channel, Nick Jr., VH1, and something new, the digital suite, the applications for a new audience ...
LP: “We are already very well consolidated with our linear portfolio with the mentioned brands. Now we are very happy with the arrival of our streaming portfolio, which complements our ecosystem. We always seek to satisfy not only our audience but also all of our partners. A year ago, precisely amidst the pandemic, we launched our AVOD service, Pluto TV, which is already in 17 Latin American countries, including Mexico. As a result of that launch, we already have 97 channels of different genres on this platform and more than 180 content partners. Access to Pluto TV is very easy because it doesn't ask for your name or email. As it is a free platform, you can access it directly through PlutoTV.com and you are already browsing more than 97 channels ...”. PARAMOUNT+: AFFORDABLE AND POWERFUL
She continued: “And with Paramount+ we are also very happy. On March 4, we launched our premium SVOD platform with an extremely affordable price for the market: to give you an example, in Mexico, it only costs 79 pesos. It has more than five thousand hours of premium content in which you can find, from Showtime and CBS content, which are part of the ViacomCBS brands, to premium movies and TV series from Paramount Pictures studios. Also many originals. The production of almost 20 originals for the remainder of 2021 and 2022 was announced just recently for the Paramount+ platform. I can share with you that one is At Midnight
, starring Diego Boneta, and the other is Los Enviados
, which is going to be filmed here in Mexico; it is a co-production with Juan José Campanella, the Oscar winner, starring Miguel Ángel Silvestre and Luis Gerardo Méndez. There is much to come. We are sure that it will grow in the AVOD side, with Pluto TV, as well as in SVOD with Paramount+.” A STEP FORWARD
RI: Do you have a dateline to gain subscribers? Are you in a race? Because the pocket of Latin Americans is not so large to be paying for various services, and there is a lot of competition. Are you on time?
LP: “The competition is very strong, but I believe that we have always been one step ahead. In the case of Pluto TV, we are pioneers having launched this AVOD service in Latin America with very good results globally. We have almost 50 million monthly active users on the platform, and in the case of Paramount+, I think that the content is key, but also the price, because we know that in LatAm paying for different services is not so easy. Having a premium product, with this type of quality of content and of all genres for any type of audience, is the key. This makes us very strong at the moment in the market”. COMPLEMENT FOR PARTNERS
RI: A classic question. Your distribution clients, the cable operators, are feeling, jealous because you are now going directly to the consumer? Do you feel that you are competing with them, cannibalizing them?
LP: “On the contrary, all of our pay-TV partners have joined our new offers. They are very important partners in the distribution side of Paramount+. We already have distribution agreements with the most important in the region, such as Izzi, Megacable, América Móvil, DIRECTV. They are part of this Paramount+ business and with many of them, we are in talks to see how they can integrate Pluto into their offer to make it an additional business for them. While they remain extremely important partners on the linear side, we also go hand in hand with our new streaming offerings. For me, it is a complement to the offer that they have. We continue to be partners in all offerings.” PANDEMIC
RI: Laura, you have taken on these responsibilities, these two hats, at a time of pandemic when some values have changed. Also at a time of the explosion of OTT services. It was like an earthquake. How have these changes impacted you, how have you handled them?
LP: “Well, last year it was difficult for everyone. Advertising sales and consumer products were the most affected by the pandemic. However, we had good results. I believe that having launched Pluto TV, which is an additional offer for our advertisers to market their products, was key to obtaining the results we were expecting in 2020. And this year it is improving, especially in Mexico. We are doing very well in terms of sales, and now, the opening that is taking place in theaters and others helps a lot to the consumer products part. We also expect very good results for this year. Another thing that helped was that when people were at home, obviously there was a greater consumption of our content, especially due to the diversity of content we have, from children to adults through the whole family. In our linear offer we had a very important growth, but also in the Paramount+ offer that in the few months that we have been running, it has already been a success”. CENTRAL AMERICA
RI: Mexico is a priority market due to its size and because of everything that moves there. And Central America, Laura, which is sometimes seen as a minor market? How important is it?
LP: “Central America is also a very important market for us. The only difference we see is in timing, and I mean that when in Mexico we are already launching streaming services and they are already being consolidated, in Central America we begin to create these businesses. And it is not that I am a step back, but that the times are different due to the reality and situation of the market. But in Central America, regarding the distribution of our linear content, we are doing very well with all our brands and very well with the partners we have. With Paramount+, having pan-regional partners in Central America such as América Móvil, that we have already launched it. Also with Millicom, DIRECTV. We do not lose sight of Central America, and it complements all the results that we have as a northern region.” COLOMBIA
RI: And what about Colombia, which is a video consumer market, which loves everything that is entertainment, fiction?
LP: “Colombia is one of our largest markets as well; not only in terms of distribution but also in terms of income for our different lines of business. In Colombia, we also have a production hub, a studio where several of the originals are being produced, both for our linear channels and for the different platforms. Colombia is one of the five most important markets in the Latin American region.” TEAM
RI: We see strength in your staff, the team, we see it so active, every day you have an announcement, an agreement, starting with the boss, JC Acosta. Do you want to comment on the team?
LP: “I think this is key and the truth is an opportunity to thank my team. Without this creativity that has always distinguished the different executives and teams of ViacomCBS we would not have been able to achieve this transformation, nor have we adapted to the circumstances. It has been great learning for me: like all teams during the pandemic, they had this ability to adapt quickly and look for opportunities. It was not easy for anyone. I am very proud, not only to belong to the JC Acosta team as president of Viacom CBS Americas but also to the team that I have locally in Mexico and that brought all of this out in difficult times. He knew how to maximize and take advantage of opportunities.”
View interview here