Viacom bets on original short-form content, expands Noggin in Latin America

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Ezequiel Fonseca Zas, SVP Multiplatform Digital Strategy & Marketing of Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) – Americas, spoke to NexTV News Latam about the plans for 2019, which include the expansion of the Noggin app, which will shortly announce an important agreement, and the production of original short-form content for social media.
The executive will talk about the company’s digital strategy in the next edition of NexTV CEO Latin America, the leading conference to be held on November 1 & 2 in Miami. He will be part of the executive panel called Direct to Kids Add on Channels.

What are the new projects of Viacom’s digital area?
During the next year, Viacom will focus on two key axes of its emerging businesses: first, it will continue making a strong bet on its Add Ons, especially Noggin, the video service for preschoolers that we distribute in Latin America and Brazil with main market operators. On the other hand, we will continue to consolidate the leadership in the social ecosystem by creating more original short-form content, for all high-scale platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, without neglecting our own platforms, which today they are more than 18 in the region considering apps and sites. We are betting a lot on consolidating and strengthening our internal teams in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina to improve our production and distribution capabilities of native digital products and original short-form content.

-How does Noggin’s expansion plan continue?
We have a very aggressive distribution plan that we have been developing for more than 14 months. And the truth is that, what mobilizes it, is Noggin’s content offer. We reached agreements in Brazil with telecom companies, broadband operators and pay TV partners. In addition to Claro Video in the region, we are about to announce a very important launch very soon and we already have a lot of active negotiations. 2019 will be a key year for Noggin because it will really become a high value product for our partners and where we will have news not only in video. The new Noggin will bring many more educational games, songs and e-books. The offer will be more open and we will also expand the demo a little, from 2 to 6 years old, in order to find support for our most solid partners in that segment.

-Viacom announced early this year a strong production strategy oriented to digital platforms. How does this initiative progress in Latin America?
We are a leading premium content producer company in Latam and the owner of important long format IPs. We produce series, shows, movies and animations. Why not do it in short format? The JV with Porta Dos Fundos in Brazil was our first step and we were not wrong. Porta is an incredible success in Brazil and we are expanding it in other markets. Short Format and Branded Content make a great pairing for many of our customers in the region and we are already seeing those results. As I said, that is our goal in the medium term, to become a great short format producer, and for that we created a dedicated team of our Viacom International Studios (VIS) that is already working with our brands in the development of new shows of 3, 5 and 7 minutes. Globally, Viacom not only created a year ago Viacom Digital Studios (VDS) led by Kelly Day, but recently acquired Awesomeness TV and VidCon. This resulted in a strong message to the market and in another example of our vocation to lead in that ecosystem as well.

-With the growth of OTT video services: Do you think that the new pay TV strategy is to migrate towards an Add-On model?
Our focus was and is to add value to our partners (Pay TV, Telcos, Broadband, etc.) and if they go to a model of one stop shop there we will be to give them our best content. We are going to create the products that are necessary so that our partners can really consolidate or complete their value offer to the final clients. We believe that business models evolve and Add Ons will be a response to the search for a simple equation: logical prices, Premium content and availability. The Add Ons come to reinforce that over the top equation, as long as they have high quality. The Add Ons are not a library junk. They must have an identity, cover a clear need, have a considerable volume of titles and episodes, and an original production that reinforces them permanently. It is a DTO of a cured bundle. And what is sought today as value is “curatorship” either of an algorithm or of editors who know audiences.

-Will the strategy continue to maintain apps for each channel or TV networks will have to regroup the offer?
There is room for everyone. There will be users that will navigate OTTs with big offers and there will be fans who will like to access a unique platform with a very powerful branding experience. The good thing about Viacom is that it produces so much content, and that content generates so much additional material, that it can enrich several platforms at the same time. I also believe in an intelligent window between them that will make the difference between worthwhile experiences (via download and click) and experiences that are not (via bounce or delete). But I insist, our focus and main interest is to reinforce the value proposal of our partners and in that we are focused day by day with all the strength of Viacom.