ViX CEO Warns That Advertisers, Brands Are ‘Missing Out’ on Underrepresented Hispanic Community | Exclusive

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The Spanish-language streamer is launching a $4.99 per month ad-supported premium tier to help close the gap in market share

ViX CEO Pierluigi Gazzolo at TelevisaUnivision's 2023 Upfront (Photo courtesy of TelevisaUnivision)

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TelevisaUnivision’s ViX is set to launch an ad-supported premium tier for $4.99 per month, as the Spanish-language streamer looks to close the gap in the share of ad dollars allocated to the Hispanic community and reach profitability in the second half of 2024.

“There’s about almost 500 million people in the world that speak Spanish as their first language. If you put together all the global streamers that make sense and look at their content, only a fraction — I’m talking low single digit, low double digits — is content regionally produced in Spanish to target these people,” ViX CEO Pierluigi Gazzolo told TheWrap in an exclusive interview ahead of TelevisaUnivision’s Upfront presentation Tuesday.

“The Spanish-language streaming lane was one of the last streaming lanes that nobody has really taken on,” he added. “Our promise became a streaming service that’s going to have the most original Spanish-language content… and so far we’ve kept our promises. There’s been a lot of momentum.”

The offering, which officially rolls out Wednesday with limited ads, comes as the platform has surpassed 50 million monthly active users on its free tier, compared to more than 30 million at the time of last year’s Upfront, with 70% year over year growth in engagement in the U.S. ViX also has over 7 million subscribers on its ad-free premium tier.

The free tier offers users access to 70,000 hours of regionally produced Spanish-language content through video on demand or FAST channels, including news. Users who subscribe to the premium ad-free tier for $6.99 per month can receive all of that plus an additional 10,000 hours worth of premium original content and 7,000 hours of sports. Gazzolo noted that the ad-free premium tier will stay at its current price for the time being, but hinted there could be room for a price increase in the future.

Despite the decline of linear television industry-wide, Gazzolo emphasized that TelevisiaUnivision is seeing “incremental” investment from advertisers for both TelevisaUnivision’s networks and Vix, adding that the latter is still in the phase of gaining share. Heading into the Upfront, he sees measurement as the biggest challenge in the ad market, citing the underrepresentation in the Hispanic community.

“The Hispanic population in the U.S. will move the presidential vote in 2024,” he said. “So it makes absolutely no sense that the representation in whatever form is not as fair and accurate as possible because otherwise a lot of brands will be missing out on big decision makers that will not only decide our future government but will decide the future of these brands.”

Check out the rest of the conversation below.

How do you view competition from larger streamers who recently launched ad tiers like Disney+, Netflix and Prime Video? How important is advertising in the streaming space?

I think the biggest difference — and I’m saying this in the most humble way — is that our proposition is very, very unique. We are a Spanish-language streaming service with Spanish-language content targeted to Spanish-language audiences. So it is very hard for me to talk about how the competition is affecting that lane that was not being serviced at all and now is being fully serviced.

We believe ad revenue is an important part of our DTC business. We always thought when we launched that ad revenue and subscription revenue went hand in hand to success. It’s very hard to succeed with one only, both have to coexist, and I believe that that’s definitely true for everyone and it’s going to continue.

You recently reached a carriage renewal with Charter Communications that will see ViX carried in Spectrum TV Select packages. What are you expecting in benefits from that partnership?

The launch of Vix in Select TV packages is going to be sometime this summer, which is north of 7 million subscribers. We’re going to be in Latino packages and we’re also going to be in the main packages and it’s going to be super exciting for us. This is really cool that somebody so big has given that respect to Latino audiences. That will definitely help churn.

On a direct to consumer basis, our churn has also had incredible momentum. Our retention and churn rates have been improving exponentially since launch. But deals like this obviously have some churn, they tend to be single-digits.

Have you been in any conversations with larger streaming players about potentially teaming up on bundles to expand the reach of ViX? What about content licensing?

We have been approached. We’re only three years old, we’re a baby, but we have been approached by various streamers to be bundled and we are having conversations. For now, nothing has been advanced but we definitely envision that like everyone else. If it makes sense to us, of course we will do it. It only helps us grow and helps the market prosper.

Content licensing is part of our formula. We are Spanish only, so our priority is Spanish-language America for now, we haven’t gotten to Spain yet. We already license originals to players in other countries, even players in multiple countries like European-based streamers or Globoplay Brazil and many, many others. We will eventually have to think about what we’re going to do in our own markets, so whether we’re going to have second windows or not I think will depend on how the business evolves for us personally. Yes, the industry is going there because the cost of production is much higher but we are so unique to general America in the sense that we own our own studios, we have our own price points, we can get to Hollywood-quality levels at much lower price points. So for now, I don’t see us having to go there in our own markets but we already do it outside of our market.

How much does sports play in the advertising equation for ViX? Do you anticipate investing in more sports rights as you continue to grow?

I think our goal is going to be to renew [the sports rights that we have]. At ViX and Univision, we know we have the leagues that our audience wants. Its Liga Mexico, UEFA Champions and UEFA Nations. That’s where our Latin American audience watches and loves to watch. So for now, it’s about maintaining those great partnerships and they are already significant. A significant amount of the offering in terms of volume and a big amount of attribution comes from soccer. So it’s something we’re going to keep pushing on but I just want to say our current slate is the perfect balance between entertainment and sports.

Any other content announcements you expect to make during the presentation?

We’re launching a new unscripted series called “Chiquis Sin Filtro.” It’s a docuseries starring two-time Latin Grammy winner Chiquis and then we’re launching with William Levy, who was a big star of one of our top series “Monte Cristo,” an original series called Arcadia. We also inked a first look deal with Arco Entertainment, which is managed and partly owned by Juanpa Zurita, he’s by far the biggest star and social influencer in LatAm with 90 million followers.

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