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THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

Smart thinking from the people running the content business.

Blue Ant takes the FAST track

By Nico Franks 03-02-2023

Julio Sobral, senior VP of US and Latin America global networks at Blue Ant Media, discusses launching original content on FAST and his ambitions for this year.

Julio Sobral

How has your business changed in the past 18 months?
Love Nature has grown both its reach and premium content significantly. The channel is available on branded pay TV linear and on FAST [free, ad-supported streaming TV] and AVoD streaming platforms in more than 130 countries. In the US, it is continuing to grow in the FAST space after making its US market debut in 2020 with a FAST-first strategy, which saw the brand launching on a series of AVoD and FAST channels. It’s now on more than 12 free streaming platforms in the US, including The Roku Channel, ViX and Freevee. Meanwhile, in the last year, Love Nature’s reach across multiple platforms in Latin America has expanded significantly and it now reaches 6.5 million homes in the region.

What has been your most successful content initiative of the past year?
The quality of our content has been a key factor in our growth worldwide. Love Nature is commissioning original content with premium partners including Passion Pictures, Beach House Pictures, NHNZ, Talesmith, Icon, Maramedia, Plimsoll and Off the Fence. Additionally, our content partnership with Sky in Europe is an incredibly successful initiative, with Sky Nature the official home of Love Nature’s series and documentaries.

What are you hoping to achieve this year?
Love Nature is looking to grow on FAST in the US even more. We want to expand Love Nature 4K and the Spanish-language Love Nature offering in the US, which is already available to Spanish-speaking audiences on ViX, Roku, Plex and Sling. Building relationships with Lat Am platforms internationally is a huge part of our growth strategy. In Lat Am territories, we see a huge opportunity to grow on cable and satellite, which continue to be significant destinations for audiences.

What new programming are you looking for in 2023?
The commissioning team looks for content that brings a fresh perspective to wildlife and nature that families can watch together. Love Nature programmes not only shine a light on many environmental concerns but are optimistic and hopeful. We also work with top-tier talent to elevate stories and create buzz. Examples of series that reflect this include Gladiators, Chasing the Rains and Wild Dogs: Pack vs Pride. [In January] we premiered the original series Wildlife ER across our global linear pay channels and on our US FAST platforms simultaneously. This marks Love Nature’s first original production to premiere on FAST.

Love Nature’s wildlife series Gladiators

Do you have a particular goal for the start of this year?
I have a focus on serving the US FAST and Lat Am market and I have some specific objectives. I’m looking to expand our distribution with existing partners in Lat Am and to connect with new platforms, in particular those in Central America and Mexico. I’m also looking for opportunities to offer Love Nature’s brand on Lat Am terrestrial networks, via branded blocks or special stunts.

What is your biggest challenge in 2023?
The free streaming space in the US has undergone huge growth, but it’s become very competitive and crowded. We’ll be continuing to strengthen our relationships with the free streaming platforms to bring value to audiences with new, fresh content and programming strategies that attract audiences and keep Love Nature a premium destination for wildlife and nature series and documentaries.

How do you think your local market will change this year?
The Spanish-speaking market on FAST in the US is growing. Additionally, streaming platforms are reaching audiences across multiple social media platforms and devices, giving them a seamless experience. In Latin American territories, pay TV cable platforms are a continuing destination for audiences alongside the streaming space. We see a huge opportunity to grow our reach on cable and satellite platforms, which continue to be a significant destination for audiences.


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