Numerical Advantage: Going local in Latin America is only half the formula for success

31 January, 2018

We’ve all heard the  battle cry: going local is the way to gain the competitive advantage against the big international competitors. But in Latin America, as well as many other markets around the world, audiences are being exposed to a sustained global supply of quality content and are becoming more fragmented and demanding. This reality is challenging media companies to create high-quality content that attracts viewers in large enough numbers to support their production budgets. So how do we really know what’s resonating with audiences? Is it possible to build a strategy that will tip the competitive odds in your favor? And are there any definable trends?


The Big Data Advantage

Conventional ratings are proving less and less accurate at really gauging what’s striking a chord with viewers, so media companies are looking to cull market intelligence from various sources, such as social media, streaming, media downloads, informational sites and more.

In fact, leveraging big-data infrastructure, these companies are now in a position to collect and process more information about consumer preferences than ever. Advances in artificial intelligence are also making it possible to make more reliable predictions about what types of content will gain the public’s approval.


Biblical Content

Using these technologies, we can now assess the effectiveness of Latin American media companies’ strategies. In particular, I was curious about how audiences are engaging with biblical storylines, biographical series, localized reality shows and co-productions. Each of my findings also led me to raise some questions about the possible role of these technologies in the future.

Biblical content tends to travel well and provides the flexibility of long-running programming. Episodes of telenovelas with biblical themes perform strongly. One of the most successful examples, Record TV’s Os Dez Mandamentos (The Ten Commandments), has multiple seasons produced, showcasing its capacity to meet ongoing public demand by extending its storyline. With this in mind, would it make sense to do semantic analysis of new scripts to measure the degree to which they resemble the tempo of biblical stories?



Biography series can also prove powerful when kept short and manageable. While many such shows fail to generate more demand than the average title, there are stunning outliers, such as TNT Latin America’s Hasta Que Te Conoci, which captured 70% higher demand than other similar biographical content.

Two factors may have contributed to its success. First, it was very well produced, earning an International Emmy nomination, and tightly packaged into 13-episode format. Second, it starred Juan Gabriel, whose widespread fame throughout the region surely buoyed the series to rise above the rest. Given this outcome, should new biographical series be studied from a perspective of how vibrant the fanbase may be for the subject?


Localized Reality Shows and Co-productions

Localized reality formats can also perform well, but the secret sauce for formats seems to be in cooking shows. Demand for local versions of well-known reality formats is higher than that for the average title, and increases further when cooking-themed franchises like MasterChef and Bake Off are adapted to the local markets.

By analyzing hundreds of successes and failures, can we pinpoint the local and global ingredients that make adaptations winners?

Co-productions are an increasingly effective strategy to significantly increase your audience reach, with episodes of co-produced shows doubling the demand captured by the average title. El Regreso de Lucas and El Señor de los Cielos are examples of successful co-productions.

Looking at the complete track record of their individual teams, can we predict with certainty if a co-production will deliver superior results?

These are just a few of the questions industry players need to ask themselves to compete in an era of constant change and rapid technological innovation. As the stakes increase in the gamble to attract larger audiences, measuring and understanding scientific insights from audiences becomes crucial to keep thriving in this business.


Closing Remarks

Technology is impacting the industry on many fronts, but it is also facilitating understanding of the complex underpinnings that drive audiences to stick around. Companies that cultivate and nurture this understanding of their audiences will ultimately have more success and a better hand to play against their competitors.

– Written by Alejandro Rojas, Regional Director for Latin America, Parrot Analytics. This article was first published in NATPE Daily, 18th January 2018.

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