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NATPE Daily 2012 . Day 1 . January 23

Cisneros Groups Adriana Cisneros tells Sean Davidson how the company test-flies ideas in Venezuela before taking them abroad and how shes now taking those ideas into the English-speaking U.S. market.

hen Adriana Cisneros looks north to the U.S. market, shes really thinking about Venezuela. Because when the Cisneros group of companies takes something to the international market whether its telenovelas for Latin America or the scripted ideas its currently pushing on the Big Five networks in the U.S. the idea is often informed by extensive test flights over its native country. Venezuela, home of the Cisneros-owned Venevision broadcast network and its many corporate siblings, acts as a laboratory for the groups media holdings, she explains, in no small part because Venezuelans are so mad for social media. "We have an amazing advantage because, for some bizarre reason, its a very interactive, social country, she says of the fourth or fifth busiest country on Twitter and the seventh busiest on Facebook. We picked up on this and started designing new productions that have a 360degree approach making all our productions completely interactive, and appealing to viewers younger than the typical telenovela fan. That was five years ago, around the time the granddaughter of founder Diego Cisneros stepped into her role as vice chairman and director of strategy at the family company. Back then, interactive meant setting up Facebook pages and she pulled what she admits was a less-than-innovative company into the 21st century. Now the Cisneros Group is keen on social TV applications like GetGlue, which, similar to the Foursquare app, allow viewers to check-in to programs. The company is also close to a deal with Argentina-based social TV service ComentaTV on a rollout in Venezuela. For the next three years were going to be very focused on continuing to learn and explore social TV, says Cisneros. Cisneros Group is also investing in TV everywhere technology so that its content can be screenagnostic, just as the company looks

Today Caracas, tomorrow the world

to be a border-agnostic player across Latin America. That said, Cisneros says the rise of netcasting she expects Netflix will do well in Lat Am is changing programming tastes across the region. Viewers are getting so used to seeing content from so many different territories, thanks to the internet, that taboos against local material are starting to fade away, she says. Latin American media firms used to live by the rule of avoiding specific references to a particular country, she notes. But we no longer have to create content that has to work well in all countries. There could be great value in seeing programming thats actually a very specific snapshot situated in a specific country. Lessons learned in South America often apply in the North, where the U.S. Hispanic market is growing rapidly. When Cisneros sold its telenovela Eva Luna to longtime partner Univision, the ratings surprised even the statisticians at Nielsen. The ratings company called Cisneros to say that two million young Hispanic viewers had appeared out of nowhere to watch the show, which arrived on the Spanish-language U.S. network with ample interactive add-ons. Nielsen hadnt known that those viewers even existed. Eva Luna was the first soap wed done in the U.S. where we brought over all our knowledge of interactive strategy from Venezuela, she says. Its now the template on which all the companys other Univision shows are based both for additional telenovelas and upcoming projects that look to push the traditional boundaries of the U.S. Hispanic market. But as the U.S. market grows,

Cisneros telenovela Eva Luna

U.S. networks need the

Hispanic market there are 55 million in the U.S. and a lot of them like Adriana Cisneros watching TV in English.

so does interest from networks other than Univision. Cisneros says the company is also starting conversations on possible coproductions with the Big Five English-language majors offering their expertise on Hispanics in exchange for getting a foot in Hollywoods door. Im telling the networks they need to have the Hispanic market; there are 55 million in the U.S. and a lot of them really like watching TV in English. They need programming that will bring them to their networks, so why not, when creating a new sitcom or series, let us help you give it a Latin undertone? Cisneros says the company has one such project that is set in Miami amid a circle of American women. But it has a very strong Latina aspect, a subtle combo of music, culture and setting that will lure Hispanics without alienating Anglos. Cisneros points to Modern Family and its Latin cast as an example. The ABC series is step one, she says, but we need to do things with a little more sophistication, a little more depth. Hear more from Adriana Cisneros in the Thought Leadership one-onone session today at 11:00 a.m. in the Fontaine Ballroom.


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