Daria Bondarenko, EVP, Sales and Acquisitions at START
START, the home of Russian premium drama, has announced an exclusive SVOD deal with Globoplay in Brazil for its new series "Passengers" and all three seasons of "Addicted". Señal News interviewed Daria Bondarenko, EVP, Sales and Acquisitions at START, who spoke about this strategic alliance and expressed Start's desire to expand in Latin America.
START's dramas are travelling to Brazil and they will be watched by a huge Globloplay audience. Why do you think Russian dramas could be attractive for Brazilian people?
"In one of the past articles, Señal News said that 'Globo and Russian audiences have a long-standing relationship’, and I cannot agree more. Russians do enjoy the high-quality and best of Brazilian telenovelas, and I think now the time has come for Brazil to enjoy a few Russian series. It doesn’t matter where a story is from if it has a strong and intricate plot, multilayered storytelling and well-written characters. START drama tends to be female-oriented with an age profile of 14-44. This overlaps with Globo audiences, and I think that potentially adds extra appetite for Latin America audience. Like Brazil, we are also into love triangles, complex crime stories and strong leading female cast. This time Globo Play has picked up 'Addicted' (now in season three), one of START’s best performing franchise series and key subscription’s drivers.; and also, our series, 'Passengers', a personal drama about atonement, and miraculous healing. This show has already received various accolades from Seoul International Drama that awarded it as the Best Short Form series, and the only one nominee from Russia to enter Canada Banff Rockie Awards Short List. We are delighted to announce that second season has been confirmed by START where we have amazing cast of Sergey Gilev and Anna Chipovskaya to join for series 2, and I think it will only double the success of season 1. Needless to say, Globo Play has nabbed an exclusive option to subsequent Seasons of the production, and we are happy to have Globo as our strategic partner in the region."
Are you expecting that "Passengers" and "Addicted" penetrate also other Latin American countries?
"Yes, we are. I think with this Globo Play deal it is a great way to kick off and to introduce audiences to get hooked by both stories. We really appreciate this partnership that comes hot off the back of MIPCOM, and we are very pleased Globo has selected these two titles for its viewers. We also believe that there is further potential for the IP itself. Having in house production arm, we also control all the rights to our IPs, which means if any region is looking to produce a local adaption, this offering is always on the table. When bringing an IP to a new market, it’s great to start working with the original to build awareness, but some great and unexpected (in a positive way) results arrive from the local remakes and adaptations. This is driven by the adaptions factoring in features of the local culture, characters, sense of humor, behavior and etc. Even though, in that case, the deal and production circle are longer, it is definitely another tool for making our stories travel outside of Russia. It is flattering to see such great recognition of all our efforts on the side of a worldwide distribution, and we are really thankful to our partners for their support and making this possible."
Can START titles fit just on digital platforms or they could be part of Pay TV and Free TV programming?
"Our main mission is to develop and to produce series that will resonate with inbound and outbound markets. We always aim to deliver entertaining stories that have relevance and can work both on linear and non-linear channels. The way we produce titles, we never limit our selves. For instance, apart from START launch, 'Addicted' S1brilliantly performed on Channel One in Russia, and later the franchise has been bought out by one of the leading entertainment media groups Gazprom holding. This proves that as long as the concept is strong, it could work both on linear and non-linear. The way we structure our productions, we always try to have this flexibility with partners across various channels in Russia, and streamers in the rest of the world. Some of the shows remain on START only, and won’t travel to TV stations as we would like to preserve originality, whereas some can definitely become of a great match to both TV and digital. Apart from 'Addicted', another latest and best sample of such production is 'Sherlock: The Russian Chronicles' (globally is with ZDF Enterprises) who has secured a multi layered structured deal. The series first went to SVOD on Salto in France, and later after a holdback it will be available on M6 channel. The same shift happened in Russia, while being on START first, later it premiered on TNT FTV channel and on Viasat premium cable. Let’s stay creative in the market where our key mission is to entertain."
Do you have other highlights titles that can appeal to Latin American audiences?
"For sure. One of the biggest hits is 'Gold Diggers' ('Russian Affairs'), another successful and long-running franchise of START, and currently global rights for distribution is with a Paris-based player Oble. We are convinced in the near future we will hear more updates on the deals from Latin America for this title. I feel there is a strong chance for 'The Vampires of Midland' to become the next big thing. It is a fantasy, a bit local flavored but still has a key element to it – family values and relations that are highly shared by both markets of Russia and Latin America. This is also our alternative interpretation and imagination on how the Vampires clan may have looked like if they lived among us nowadays. Obviously, it’s a family dramedy with a detective twist and such mix of genres will be of interest to numerous markets. Additionally, we have just announced S2 which means the series now is turning into franchise, and we won’t stop on a couple of seasons, so let’s stay tuned."
What’s coming new for the next year?
"We are developing a strong slate of young adult drama and this will include at least 5 of the new shows in this genre. However, at this stage, I’d like to highlight 'Kris+Tina', which tells the story of a young woman who accidentally bumps into the alternative version of herself online who is living a different life should she have made another choice a few years ago. The second is 'Alice' (working title “Falling Star”), a series of a girl who is losing her sight and is eager to drop everything but to feel the taste of the adult life and to sacrifice her teenage years just to catch up on everything she is losing with her ability to see. This is a story based on the real-life events, and I think the journey our young character embarks on could fit to the various markets of Latin America. We are in the early production, so hopefully next year we can present some exclusive materials and sneak peeks to the global market."
By Romina Rodríguez
START drama tends to be female-oriented with an age profile of 14-44. This overlaps with Globo audiences, and I think that potentially adds extra appetite for Latin America audience” Daria Bondarenko EVP, Sales and Acquisitions at START