With a catalogue of over 4.400 half hours of animated and live action programming for kids, seen on some of the most respected channels and platforms around the world, 9 Story Distribution International, the distribution arm of 9 Story Media Group, has some ambitious business plans in Latin America. Alix Wiseman, Senior Vice President, Distribution & Acquisitions at the company, described its strategy and analyzed the potential of new areas such as AVOD and FAST.
▸ What is your business strategy in Latin America?
“We have made some great deals with players such as TelevisaUnivision, Somos, Canal 11, or Gloob in the past, but these are not as frequent nowadays, and I think that is because of the pandemic. Therefore, we are looking a little bit more at how we can make our offer more interesting for our partners in Latin America. We are always in contact with our buyers, but I think the pandemic has had an effect on all of us, and made it harder in terms of budgets. Our strategy is to reunite with our Latin American buyers as much as possible, find what they need, and see how we can help them. If budgets are down, that does not mean we cannot work together. We can figure out a way and do not stop the relationship.”
▸ What opportunities do you observe in the streaming business?
“An area that we would like to keep an eye on is the AVOD platforms, like Pluto, for instance. What we see is that content on AVOD platforms or even YouTube is doing very well in Latin America. For example, if there is only one season, we go and dub another one. That means we can then go back into the linear channels and offer that. We know that, in Latin America, people need those dubs, and they need to be really well made. We are very careful with that and we know how important it is to get the dubs right.”
▸ Do you also see a growth opportunity in the FAST business?
“Absolutely, and that is definitely a big part of our strategy. We are already doing some dedicated channels on some of the AVOD players. Is something we have our eyes on, and we love the fact that it is good content that reach children for free. However, I do think that is going to take time for the FAST business to start getting a return. Sometimes you might just break even. The ambition should not always be to make money right away. It is actually more about getting into the business, finding a place. That is how we consider the FAST business: we want to be in, but we will be patient.”
▸ Do you recognize any specific programming need in Latin America?
“The message we are getting from all territories around the world, especially in the United States, is that they want well known and established IPs, brands, shows that are already loved by kids from all regions. This is because they are a safer, less risky bet. They know there is going to be a return, they are going to maintain their audiences and keep the kids happy. That is why shows like ‘Barney’ perform so well for us, for example. We definitely keep selling original IPs in the region, but there is tendency to go to the safer place, taking few risks.”
▸ Which shows are you currently focusing on?
“We have ‘Rosie’s Rules,’ a show that we are really proud of. It is an animated preschool comedy series about a five-year-old Mexican American girl just beginning to learn about the fascinating, baffling, thrilling world beyond her family walls. Then we have ‘Donkey Hodie,’ which is an American puppet live action musical preschool series created by Fred Rogers. We are also focusing ‘Karma’s World,’ which launched on Netflix about a year ago, and a new show called ‘Atom Town,’ which follows a colorful community of characters based on the elements of the periodic table, among other titles.”
By Diego Alfagemez and Federico Marzullo