6 FEB 2023

NBCUniversal Formats bets on family and friendly entertainment

Ana Langenberg, SVP Format Distribution & Production, and Albertina Marfil, Director Format Sales & Production at NBCUniversal, analyze the current trends on the market and explain the division’s strategy.


Albertina Marfil and Ana Langenberg


NBCUniversal Formats, which is part of Universal International Studios, a division of Universal Studio Group, is the international sales division for all formats created within the production, broadcast, and streaming divisions of NBCUniversal and Sky Studios, as well as select third parties. In dialogue with Señal News, Ana Langenberg, SVP Format Distribution & Production, and Albertina Marfil, Director Format Sales & Production at NBCUniversal, analyze the current trends in the market and explain the division’s strategy.

▸  What is the company’s strategy for this year regarding formats’ sales?
AL: “Our strategy is about keep doing businesses in Latin America, as we have always done, both on scripted and non-scripted. We will continue to push some of our most established brands, such as ‘Top Chef,’ but we are also bringing some of our new titles, like ‘That’s My Jam.’ We think that this type of programming, which is family-friendly entertainment, will be good for Latin America. On top of that, we want to keep licensing our scripted titles. Last year we launched our first co-production in Mexico with Dopamine, ‘Superstore,’ and also ‘Supertitlán’ with TV Azteca. For us, is about partnering with the best producers in every market and working together with them, either is a co-production or just a license, in which case we just support their production for the adaptation of our titles.”

▸  What needs do you observe in the territory?
AM: “In Latin America, as in most emerging markets, we encounter the challenge of finding things that are scalable, which is not easy to find. Regarding other trends, the reality genre is growing, especially with well-established brands. Our number one reality format is ‘The Real Housewives,’ which is great fun, addictive, binge-able. It is definitely a highlight in terms of what we want to promote and push. Then, the usual: it is always talent, music, singing, and no-brainy entertainment that the family can watch, have fun and forget about the news, which is getting worse every day. More than ever, the comedy element is transcending to other genres. In the fiction world, things are getting very interesting because people are looking for something different; they want to be able to laugh. We have plenty of that in our catalog.”

▸  Do you see a growing opportunity for unscripted formats on streaming platforms?
AL: “For sure. There are more and more conversations with SVOD platforms for unscripted shows, which is great. They are always looking for something with a bit of an edge, so it is slightly different. The binge-able aspect is really important too. It is a great opportunity to offer something that maybe linear channels do not take the risk on. I think they are definitely growing their commissioning of unscripted, and that is great for us. It is funny to see SVOD going to entertainment and linear broadcasters commissioning locally scripted. There is definitely a change going on.”

▸  Regarding scripted, what are clients looking for in terms of stories and characters?
AL: “The type of shows that streaming platforms commission is different, but I think everybody wants something the way we approach and create new stuff. It is about trying to create a different story or angle. It is about finding a unique voice, more diverse stories, and talent, and bringing plots with a twist. Overall, the market is looking for global human stories recognizable in every country. It does not matter where they come from.”

By Diego Alfagemez and Federico Marzullo