Great European Content can be Accessed for the First Time

Great European Content can be Accessed for the First Time

 

Rubén Mendiola is a seasoned TV executive with extensive experience in Spanish Language programming and a strong belief in niche content and niche channels. Now, in late June, he, together with his partner Luis Torres-Bohl, is about to launch Europa Mas (or Europa+ = More Europe), a digital streaming platform that will make available for the first time contemporary great quality European entertainment content from major producers in Europe to the growing European ex-pat community and their families in Latin America.

 

You will soon be launching the new Europa Mas streaming service. What platforms will you be on, and – most importantly – what programs will you be offering?

We are launching simultaneously across multiple platforms. All of our content will be made available through most internet-connected streaming devices in Latin America including our website www.EuropaMas.com, proprietary applications on both iOS and Android platforms as well as AppleTV, Amazon’s Fire TV, and Roku. Additionally, we intend to provide our service as a solution for Pay-TV providers. In the past, these providers could not get relevant programs for their services and we aim to fill that gap. We will always make our programs available in the original language, be it English, German, Italian, French, Norwegian, Swedish… and in most cases, they will be subtitled in other languages to expand the available audience.

I think this is important for people to enjoy the services. We have the ambition to bring the most recent and relevant programming from Europe. We have many shows that have not even premiered in Europe yet, but we will, of course, wait till after they come out in their original countries. We have deals with Mediaset in Italy, BBC in the UK, or ZDF in Germany and with Nordic TV that provides great series from throughout Scandinavia. Additionally, our agreement with Studio 100 gives us access to great kids’ content, probably some of the best cartoons in the world, and we have them in German, English, and French. We also have deals with Autentic and Der Spiegel and others which help to expand the variety of content on the platform. I believe it is also exciting for them as well since they can showcase their content for the very first time for a wider audience in Latin America. U.S. productions are very well known, but European productions that oftentimes have a tremendous quality but are not getting the visibility they deserve. We hope to change that.

 

When will you be launching?

We aim to be in the market by the end of June.

 

How big is this ex-pat community you are addressing with the Europa Mas service in Latin America?

That is not easy to say. Every country will give you an official number based on their census that usually is not updated every year. The last ones were published around 2010. That means we are cold with information for about ten years. However, from the information we get from other reliable sources like the United Nations or the various European embassies in the region, we believe to be able to reach a sizeable market throughout the region. And, because of the overall developments like new trade deals, we expect more and more people will continue to come from Europe.

There was a great migration of Europeans after the Great War and many of these people are older now but continue to have families that are strongly connected to their European heritage. There are even communities throughout Latin America that were settled by Europeans where the preferred language continues to be that of the settlers.

Additionally, we believe that the programming we are gathering will also be attractive for the ex-pat families, those that recently arrived in the region. They have a more immediate connection to the programming we will be hosting as they were watching it in their home countries. Finally, the way content and entertainment are created in Latin America is similar to how it is created in Europe, which is different from the Hollywood model. Therefore, we believe that we will see a lot of interest in our programming by people that love culture, languages, and travel.

What is incredible is that what we offer now has never been available in Latin America. Here in the U.S.A. where I live, we have a healthy business of boutique streaming services, a type of small Netflix, that cater to the needs of lovers of scary movies, for example, or of anime [Japanese cartoons]. You find these boutique services for all kinds of genres. Latin America is a little bit behind. One of the reasons is that broadband adoption in some countries has not developed as fast as in other parts of the world. But we are getting there! Recently, the situation of the Coronavirus has further accelerated the adoption of VOD [Video on Demand] services across Latin America and the Caribbean.

 

This sounds very promising. Tell us a little bit about your background.

“I’m a lawyer and have been working in Entertainment all my professional life starting in Mexico at Televisa, the largest Spanish content producer in the world. There, I spent nine years and covered every position you could have there. By the time I left Televisa many years later, I oversaw buying their pay TV program for both the cable system they own in Mexico City, and  I also launched Sky in Mexico. What I did then was programming and growing subscriptions. This allowed me to move to Fox Sports where I worked for Latin America but from the U.S.A. I operated the Fox Sports channels in Latin America and I realized I have a passion for multicultural and minority groups. Very often when you are an ex-pat in a bigger country, as I was, you realize that the overall public is very well served but minorities lack services that connect them to their roots and heritage.

From Fox Sports, I moved to another satellite company, Dish, and for almost ten years I led the Latino division. I created all the Latino services and helped to launch Dish in Mexico and Puerto Rico. It was a great experience. Again, I was fully focused on the U.S. Hispanic market, the largest multicultural group. I always tried to get the quality of program and relevance they require. Then Comcast invited me to become Senior Vice President of multicultural products for their cable division. This was a great experience since I oversaw all multicultural groups: Latin America, Africa, Asia… I was in charge of providing relevant content for them, growing subscriptions not only on for TV but also for internet and home services. Then I was invited by NBC Universal to run their Hispanic channels.  I’m grateful for all of these experiences that have led me to this moment when I decided to go on my own.

 

Does that mean, you founded your own company?

Yes, a consulting company, Entamar Media, and I started doing other projects for Pay TV.    TV channels nowadays are becoming a difficult business. What I liked most about programming was bringing relevant content to the public. What you are doing in cable channels nowadays is managing the budget.  The model is based on how many people watch the channel live and that has become difficult since people have decided to watch content on-demand, meaning they watch what they like whenever they like it. The previous model of Appointment TV where all viewers watched a show at a specific time is not accepted anymore.

I came together with a company called Castalia Communications, a company that is led by Luis Torres-Bohl. He is not only an amazing TV executive that brought many niche channels into Latin America for many years, but he is also a great person that I like and admire. When we talked about what we could do together we figured out that we could also provide online the same programming that we love to bring to cable and satellite – video on demand via streaming and OTT [Over the Top Television].

For the first time, we could deploy a boutique service to all Latin America and the Caribbean that could bring a programming mix from all the best TV channels from across Europe, targeting the ex-pat community. That was very exciting. With all my experience in cable I knew that if, for example,  you want to watch a German channel in German, the only thing you found in Latin America was Deutsche Welle. The channel is not even in German because it is aired mostly in Spanish. Plus it has an educational approach which is nice, but it likely is not what you want to watch being a European ex-pat living in Latin America.

When I was working in cable, I needed to justify launching a channel like Deutsche Welle. When you are a big platform in one of the metropolitan areas you can do it, but if you are a small cable operator in a remote part of Mexico it is almost impossible to buy international channels. You do not have the budget. VoD and OTT services help solve this problem as our service will be available everywhere in Latin America and the Caribbean and will bring the best of European TV content.  You can watch it when you want it, where you want, and how you want it.

 

That is why you launch Europa Mas now but in difficult times. You cannot have a big launch party?

These are interesting times; indeed! We will have a big launch event on the internet where we will be most relevant. I like the look and feel of our platform we have developed with the London based branding agency Flump. I am sure our audience will enjoy our service as much as we did while developing it!