Univision will launch a two-tiered streaming service next year, as the Spanish-language streaming battle heats up.
Univision's PrendeTV will offer free ad-supported content as well as a premium service. The free version will include originals, more recent major studio films as well as new features including live sports and a 24/7 news service.
The company will be competing with Netflix, ViacomCBS' Pluto TV, Discovery's Vix and Fox's Tubi services that all also offer Spanish-language media catered to American audiences. Telemundo, another American Spanish-language network and Univision's largest competitor, offers some of its programming on Peacock, NBCUniversal's streaming platform. Last month it announced plans for a Spanish-language production studio.
"The market is underserved. If you combine all the top global subscription services [Netflix, Amazon, etc.], the percentage of content that is originally produced in Spanish is still in single digits," said Univision President and Chief Transformation Officer Pierluigi Gazzolo. "In our world, at least 90% of the content will be created in Spanish, or with a heavy cultural influence."
The premium subscription tier, overseen by Neftlix and Hulu veteran Rodrigo Mazon, will include at least 30 original productions from some heavy hitter creatives, including writer Maria Dueñas, who will develop her first-ever series exclusively for Univision.
"Hasta Que la Boda Nos Separe" director Santiago Limón will collaborate with "Jane the Virgin" and "Ugly Betty" executive producer Ben Silverman to bring "Pinches Momias" — an action, horror and comedy series in which Guanajuato's renowned mummies come back from the dead during the busiest week of the year.
Univision also secured the first ever TV adaptation of Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa's "Travesuras de la Niña Mala," which follows an epic love story set in the 1960s across various cities in Europe.
Gazzolo pointed out that the Latino market is overrepresented in streaming. He said 78% of Latinos stream, as opposed to the general market, where about half of viewers stream.
Earlier this year, the company merged with Mexico's Grupo Televisa in a $4.8 billion deal that created a media giant. The deal will give Univision access to an iconic telenovela library and entrance into the world's largest Spanish-language speaking country.
Brand, pricing and the specific launch date for the streaming service will be announced following the close of the merger later this year.
Univision announced their plans earlier this year, but had not set a date did not reveal details.
Songtradr, a Santa Monica-based music rights and licensing startup with deep Aussie ties, has been gobbling up smaller competitors in the past several months. On Monday, it announced it raised $50 million in Series D funding.
"Songtradr is rapidly accelerating as we continue to develop our tech-enabled B2B music ecosystem and integrate our new acquisitions," said CEO Paul Wiltshire in a statement.
Wiltshire, a former musician and producer who moved from Australia to Los Angeles to launch the company seven years ago, has benefited from his homeland connections.
This round of funding was led by several Australian investors including Regal, Aware Super, Perennial, Argo and Greencape, as well as Richard White, the CEO of Wisetech Global.
To date, the company has raised more than $100 million in funding, and this round brings the valuation to over $300 million. Last August, Songtrader closed a $30 million round of Series C led by St. Baker Australian family office, which is an amalgam of other prominent Australian family offices and several existing investors.
Songtradr boasts more than 1.5 million songs in its database, enabling companies like Disney, Netflix, Apple, Coca-Cola, Amazon and Google can purchase rights to them.
Last year, the company said it wanted to take advantage of the explosion of video streaming services hungry for more music. It's said it is on track for a 100% year-over-year revenue increase in 2021, after seeing a 100% year-over-year revenue increase in 2020.
Songtradr also offers a tier-based subscription service that gives artists access to analytics and a greater proportion of revenue.
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Amazon Studios is pledging that by 2024 half of all top-line roles – directors, writers, producers – in their movies and shows will be composed of women and underrepresented groups.
The Culver City studio released a new "Inclusion Policy" on Wednesday aimed at improving representation of women, people of color and other minority groups in its films and series. The effort comes as its parent, retail behemoth Amazon, acquired MGM Studios and is attempting to address longstanding criticisms of Hollywood's lack of inclusion.
But Amazon itself is catching heat for reportedly discriminating against its employees.
Darnell Hunt, dean of social sciences at UCLA and an author of the annual Hollywood Diversity Report, called Amazon Studios' new guidelines "an important piece of a larger holistic approach" to making lasting change in Hollywood. But, he said, that doesn't address the culture within Amazon proper, and how diversity, equity and inclusion are embedded into the company's daily operations.
"How does it affect executive duties at Amazon, the people making the core decisions from the very top that impact the way people throughout the organization are thinking about what the values of Amazon are?" Hunt said.
Amazon did not reply to a request for comment.
According to the Hollywood Diversity Report out of UCLA, women made up just 26% of film writers and about 21% of directors last year. People of color made up nearly 26% of film writers in 2020. There are also disproportionately fewer women and people of color directing films with budgets over $100 million, the report found.
Amazon Studios said in a statement that the new guidelines are stricter than the diversity requirements put forth last year by the Academy, which runs the Oscar Awards and has faced mounting criticism centered around a rallying cry of "OscarsSoWhite."
Starting in 2022, films vying for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science's "best picture" award must submit confidential "inclusion" data; and by 2024 they must adhere to specific diversity standards, which have been both lauded and criticized for being too lenient.
Amazon Studios' new guidelines include the following specific goals for its productions:
- Each film or series with a creative team of three or more "above-the-line" roles – directors, writers, producers – "should ideally include a minimum 30% women and 30% members of an underrepresented racial ethnic/group."
- Actors' real-life identities should align with those of their characters.
- At least one character should have a speaking role from each of the following categories: LGBTQIA+, person with a disability, and three "regionally underrepresented race/ethnic/cultural groups." One character can fulfill one or more of these identities, and a minimum of 50% of them should be women.
- Seeking bids from woman-owned and minority-owned vendors and suppliers.
- Pay equity across casting, crew and suppliers.
Among the advisors who helped Amazon Studios develop its new guidelines were representatives from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, a think tank that studies diversity and inclusion in entertainment.
"Frankly, the outcomes of [diversity equity and inclusion] work within the entertainment industry have not been swift or sweeping. In part, that can be attributed to disingenuous approaches to address the systemic barriers to entry that have long plagued Hollywood," said Stacy Smith, founder and director of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, in a statement. "But now, Amazon Studios has created a comprehensive new blueprint that will change Hollywood by elevating those who have historically lacked access. I'm immensely proud of this new policy and I know it will be a gamechanger throughout an industry often resistant to real change."
Little was divulged by Amazon about how it plans to enforce the new guidelines.
"You have to incentivize people to do the right thing," Hunt said. "You can do it with a carrot or with a stick. I'd want to see a conversation about that."
Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify the breadth of the studio's new policy.
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