Julio Sonino, CEO at Tuvvo: ‘The US Hispanic audience and Latin America are the most interesting targets for the platform’

Interviewed by Nextv News Latin America, Julio Sonino, CEO at Tuvvo, gave details about the platform’s projects for the future, as well as plans to strengthen its content catalog, which include adding 50 Latin American linear channels. The platform is now available on a global scale for the entire Spanish-speaking market, although the executive emphasized the US and Latin America, which he defined as ‘the most interesting targets’ for Tuvvo. 

How has the Tuvvo launch initiative come up?

When I started to think of the idea of ​​creating my own platform, I did not realize that, when I launched it, this was going to be the geography in which we are living today. I have 37 years of experience in TV, I managed a standalone audiovisual production company and I have also worked in TV channels but, basically, I was always an independent producer who was trying to place their content on the channels that existed at each of the times. For content generators, it has always been quite difficult to place their content and get a fair remuneration.

Over time, more democratic or popular platforms emerged, such as Tuvvo, which allow us to upload our content so that it reaches as many eyes as we can communicate that content is available there. What we have not achieved yet is an appropriate remuneration with that task. In this context, I started to think about how to take our content to a certain audience, with the advertisement that we would like to have. There, I identified the technology and we began to build the platform in 2017, when we started to design what was initially an application for cell phones, and currently we are a 360 ° platform, because we are available on mobile devices, smart TVs, on Apple TV and Roku STBs, and in our web version. At first, we started as an app, and we started uploading our content and showing the technology and what could be achieved to fellow content producers and aggregators, who are also looking to feel that they run their content business.

Last year, we matured all the technological and management parts, because we were looking for a technology that would really allow users to watch our platform’s content anywhere in the world in an optimal way. We were looking for Tuvvo to have the same YouTube ability to display content. Then, it was up to us to generate the marketing and advertising business. We have very positive feedback from content aggregators, and we started to grow in that aspect with hours. We made a soft launch in March, and we are receiving many hours of content, as a result of partnerships that we are running, and closing agreements with linear channels groups. We aim to offer audiences free TV and audiovisual content.

In which countries has the Tuvvo soft launch taken place and what feedback has the platform taken as part of this first launching stage?

We are based in Miami, and the Hispanic audience in the US is one of the most interesting targets we have, but also Latin America. We have had a very good impact in Uruguay, as well as in Colombia, where we have an agreement with a music event producer that allows us to have a lot of Colombian music content. We have Mexican boxing content and we have also had good feedback there. We also have the Chilean channel ‘Zona Latina’, and it broadcast the Copa Libertadores Female Football League, and that generated a lot of recognition throughout Latin America, because the competition was played by well-known teams from various countries in the region, such as America de Cali (Colombia); Universidad Catolica (Chile); Boca Juniors (Argentina); River Plate (Argentina) and others. Our platform is open to the Spanish-speaking market around the world. We have the possibility to offer some content for users in certain geographic locations, and we make agreements with producers who already have previous partnerships in certain regions. To sum up, we have had good feedback throughout the Spanish-speaking world, and the greatest one took place in the already mentioned countries.

What ways are now available to access Tuvvo’s catalog?

The platform has its web version, and it is also possible to access it on the iOS and Android stores. We are also available on Apple TV, Roku, and it is even possible to connect the device to a Chromecast to watch our content on TV, and AirPlay.

How has Tuvvo evaluated audience feedback for free content consumption?

With a good communication strategy, it is possible to convince audiences to add our application as one of their apps on their TV or cell phone. Here, the problem and the key is in the engagement of the audiences. Downloading an app is very easy, but the problem is that audiences enter the platform one more time. The key is to deliver free content, but also for it to be interesting for audiences, so that they return and become loyal. An example is the delivery of a series, so that audiences must return and  watch them. The fact that audiences need to come back is interesting, and so is marketing and events. We generate specific events. Some of them are offered under the PPV mode, and others are free. We are currently programming an event to access a virtual show by a Uruguayan artist on PPV, and, days ago, we had a live program with free access, based on a renowned sommelier who performed an Italian wine tasting, through which we had very good results, and we kept a good level of interest from the audience for a long time, because the program lasted about 40 minutes and the interest managed to stay.

How important is offering a good content standard for audiences to pay to access certain events?

We know that in the market we have the option of offering free content, in exchange for audiences to watch advertising. That is where we need to know how much advertising audiences are willing to watch, and strike a balance. It is positive that certain live events are offered without advertising. The situation of the pandemic created, without a doubt, that the great artists have made virtual shows, which generated that audiences pay to access that event. In addition, in that case,  audiences support the artist, who has been lacking work for more than a year, together with his entire team. At Tuvvo, we have solid tools for these types of offers, and we can charge from the platform itself, with which the client gets all the service without leaving the platform.

Tuvvo’s catalog also includes linear TV channels. What has been the answer of audiences to them?

Linear channels make sure a kind of convenience that is not generated by the VOD format. VOD is independent, because each user creates his own programming, it is a programmer’s project, where audiences build their playlists, so that they can watch the content that they want to watch. But there are also many people who are more directed to watch a linear channel that offers them a certain programming. There is still an attachment of the audience to the linear channel. For example, Argentines living outside Argentina will watch Netflix and other digital platforms, but if there is a linear channel from Argentina, they will be interested in accessing it. The market is changing, but it has not yet changed completely, and linear channels consumption is going to be maintained for a few more generations. At Tuvvo we are one step away from running an agreement to have more than 50 linear channels, of which many will be from Latin American channel groups, and from channel groups in each country. We are implementing this kind of agreements in Uruguay, Colombia and Mexico. For us, the offer of the linear channel is very important, as well as its internationalization. Currently, the number of channels that we can bring to a home from our platform is unlimited, and we have the possibility of globalizing channels with a more limited scope, either by the antenna or by each country’s regulations.

Apart from linear TV channels, what difference does Tuvvo have compared to other streaming platforms on the market?

I think that major player’s platforms are from large studios and media conglomerates. The difference that Tuvvo has is that the union of content generators will continue to strengthen it. Also, there are certain communities that will find content that satisfies them on Tuvvo. There are great productions of media conglomerates, but there are also audiences that want something else, such as more cultural content, certain opinions in the sports field, standalone cinema, and others. We are going to go out there, and we are creating communities and strengthening our relationship with audiences.

What preferences are currently taking place on Tuvvo’s content portfolio?

For lifestyle content and ‘do it yourself (DIY)’. We are currently adding a channel called ‘Coloral TV’ (Argentina), which is a very well-known company in the DIY field, which already offers a platform and is now launching a channel that will be part of the catalog of some operators in Argentina, and will also be available on Tuvvo. It also happens with cooking, wine and travel content. Then, of course, football. We have done tests with esports content, and we are going there too.

Apart from the already mentioned ways to access Tuvvo’s catalog, is there any plan to add the platform into a Latin American pay TV operator offer?

Many of the linear channels that we are integrating are FTA TV ones, and others are cable TV channels, with which we are already having interactions with operators. In August we will be adding FTA TV channels from different countries. In relation to cable, we are already integrating Chilean channels, such as ‘Zona Latina’, and other cable channels in that country.

What is your vision for the future of the industry for the next few years?

It’s a time of rejoicing for content creators and generators, and putting beards to soak for broadcasters. I think channel owners have to think about how to reformulate themselves. In fact, in the US, it is something that we are already experiencing: there are many cable companies that are only offering internet services and generating negotiations with streaming platforms. In addition, audiences continue to consume audiovisual content regardless of the way to do so (mobile devices or TV). We must adapt ourselves in the formats. On TV, very interesting new formats have been created, and I think that, as content producers, we must be open to them and to be with the audiences in that way. The same happens with social network’s audiovisual offers (for example, Instagram TV and Facebook Watch). Each format has its language, but the concept of TV remains. What changes is the way it reaches the audience’s eyes.