María Sánchez: “There is still an appetite and need for good content, and we have it”

The SVP of TV Licensing, Latin America for Paramount Global Content Distribution, talked with Señal News during the company’s presentation at the 2024 LA Screenings about the challenges and potential for the regional entertainment industry.

21 MAY 2024

María Sánchez

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Paramount Global Content Distribution’s 2024 LA Screenings featured programming across various brands with hundreds of international buyers in attendance. The company revealed upcoming new series, including “The Darkness, “starring Oscar nominee Lena Olin, “Happy Face,” starring Emmy Award and Golden Globe-Nominated Dennis Quaid and Annaleigh Ashford, as well as “Average Joe,” the darkly comedic drama starring Deon Cole. During the presentation, María Sánchez, SVP, TV Licensing, Latin America, Paramount Global Content Distribution, talked with Señal News about the challenges and potential for the regional entertainment industry.

Sánchez sees great potential for Paramount in the region, given the variety of its catalog and the power of its library content: “Every year, we have a very large catalog, offering a product for everybody, including premium and more network-type shows." The executive also highlighted the added value classic shows like “Walker Texas Ranger” or “Doctor Quin, Medicine Woman,” which are still being distributed across the region, offer not only for the company but also for buyers and their audiences: “We have a very good and large library that we continue to monetize, which is important for us, for the monetization, but I think it is very important for the clients as well. Classics are content that is already amortized, so the margin we get on the library is very interesting and is also very interesting for some clients who do not want to spend on a whole marketing campaign. They prefer to have multiple seasons and a show that does not need promoting anymore since everybody knows it. For example, a show like ‘Walker Texas Ranger’ does not need promotion and has multiple seasons.” She also shared that the show “Beverly Hills 90210” is being remastered for streaming, which will “make it available for all the clients to be able to license it in nostalgia-focused channels or services.”

To maximize profits from all the company's content, Sánchez emphasized the importance of having a windowing strategy before moving on to close deals for distribution: “For us, if some of the holdbacks are not negotiated, we prefer the first windows before we maybe go to AVOD or FAST. So (the key) is how you manage to maximize the life of that content. If you go straight to all the windows, sometimes you could kill the show’s possibilities in a premium service.” Of course, the strategy will vary with each content, but the executive made clear that deals must be pursued after this is defined, not before.

Sánchez also observed that, compared to the number of shows produced 3 or 4 years ago, the volume of local productions is reducing. This trend does not necessarily depend exclusively on the economic situation of the region, although she did explain that “It is cheaper to acquire a show than producing one.” In that sense, the executive defined Paramount as a “wildcard”: “You buy content that you know is going to perform, and you can control the course.”

However, in this context she feels that the appetite for movies and mainstream series is still there: “I think it is a tougher moment in the industry, budgets are not as large as they used to be. But there is still an appetite and need for good content, and we have it. Clients are being careful with what they buy. Since they do not have the same budgets as before, they want to make sure they are buying what they need.” A recent example of this is the performance of two original series, “From” and “Poker Face”, are having in the region: “For example, the show ‘From’, that was made for MGM+ in the U.S. and ‘Poker Face’ for Peacock, are premium shows that are performing really well in the region. We are going to start season 3 of ‘From’ and we have licensed it to NBCUniversal, for Universal+ and lineal channel, and to Globo Play in Brazil, and they are both very happy with the show.”

Sánchez concluded that, even though companies are being more cautious and strategic on their buys, “it really depends on what the clients need or their priorities, and the profile of their audience. You need to listen to the client and then offer the content they are looking for. We try not to push for content they are not looking for.”

By Diego Alfagemez and Federico Martinez