In this ongoing series, TBI speaks to key buyers about the shows they want and the models being used to pay for them.
Here, Marcos Milanez, chief content officer at Barcelona-based, European VOD service Rakuten TV, shares his service’s focus on positive programming, growing FAST offering and considered approach to acquisitions.
What kind of shows are you currently looking to commission?
When Rakuten TV launched its originals back in 2019, our ambition was to showcase remarkable and inspirational stories of optimism, empowerment, diversity and resilience that reflects the company’s DNA. It’s upon this foundation that we continue to build on.
We have a broad editorial scope, from high-end feature sports documentaries, having successfully launched titles such as Sadio Mané: Made In Senegal, Andrés Iniesta: The Unexpected Hero and Ona Carbonell: Starting Over and inspirational documentaries such as Rumeysa: Walking Tall, to exciting reality and talent shows including Hairstyle: The Talent Show and Make Up Stars. Most recently, we brought back our hit reality challenge show Discovering Canary Islands for a second season, which was in collaboration with the Canary Islands Tourist Board, which worked very well for us.
Our remit is very focused – we look for uplifting and positive stories that have the ability to inspire, educate and entertain. We will continue to champion inspiring and remarkable people from the worlds of sport and entertainment, and to create fast-paced and fun reality and talent formats.
Are you open to pitches & at what stage would you want to join a project?
Yes, absolutely. We have a fantastic originals team led by Daniel Gilgado, and we are open to pitches at various stages of the project; we can look at developing a project with a producer or refining an already well-developed project to meet our remit for our originals.
A continued key focus for Rakuten TV is around the growth of our FAST offering and we are always open to collaboration with partners for third-party content and channels to acquire to the platform. Here we have a far larger remit and can look at both broad and niche acquired content.
What financing models can you offer & how much can you contribute towards productions?
We are flexible towards different models, which can be accommodate case by case.
What upcoming shows are you most looking forward to? What is it about those projects that makes them a good fit for your channel/platform?
After the recent launches of the talent shows Make Up Stars and Hairstyle: The Talent Show, we have just launched the second season of our hit reality show Discovering Canary Islands, which is an adventure-race hosted by the iconic Spanish celebrity Pilar Rubio. Filmed in stunning locations across the eight islands of the Canaries, eight contestants from different countries across Europe face a series of challenges in their quest to find the mythical San Borondón, immersing themselves and the viewers in local culture and legends along the way.
The series is family-friendly, has a fantastic energy to it, looks glorious, and works incredibly well for us. It is the type of show that brings in a strong viewership, but more importantly, engagement – as it’s a genre that generally results in high repeat rate due to its stickiness factor. Plus, the pan-European nature of the show, featuring contestants with different nationalities works well across the range of our audience.
What is on your acquisitions wishlist at the moment?
We have approximately 100 branded Rakuten TV FAST channels across Europe, and it continues to grow. The Rakuten TV Movies channels are our cornerstone, which we’ve successfully led in the market with an ample offering of Hollywood and European titles, but we’re always open to new partners that contribute to improving quality and local relevance. In addition to movies, we are also in search of true crime, reality and factual entertainment content for Western Europe.
How do you approach balancing acquisitions vs original commissions?
The majority of the volume of content available on our platform consists of acquisitions (i.e. content licensing), however, we take a very careful and strategic approach to the originals we set out on our service, as there needs to be an appealing editorial and commercial aspect to it.
Which rights would you be looking to acquire? How flexible can you be?
Rakuten TV is a platform that offers premium content across various types of access, ranging from Transactional VOD, AVOD and FAST.
Which shows are performing well for you currently?
On AVOD/FAST, we have seen a strong performance of genres such as movies, live news, true crime and reality. The rise in prominence in AVOD and FAST has grown exponentially over the last few years on Rakuten TV, with our audiences enjoying a wide range of free-to-access content. We’ve also managed to attract more locally relevant brands and top broadcasters to join our FAST proposition, as they’ve come to realise there’s a huge market potential to be tapped across the CTV landscape.
Meanwhile on transactional VOD, Hollywood blockbusters straight from the cinema continue to be enormously popular. The freshness of these titles coming into homes (and in 4K quality) so quickly after its cinematic release is always a huge draw, and a great addition to Rakuten TV’s content offering, where our customers have the freedom to chose if they want to access premium content for free with ads, to buy or to rent.
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