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Script Comp

Mexico’s Azteca unveils high-end studio

Benjamin Salinas in Cannes this week. Picture via @mip

MIPCOM: The CEO of Mexico’s TV Azteca has launched an independent studio that will produce for rival broadcasters and OTT platforms, pledging to invest US$200m in premium scripted content.

Benjamin Salinas, CEO of TV Azteca, told delegates in Cannes that the studio, dubbed Dopamine, will be completely independent of TV Azteca and already has a biblical drama in the works.

The studio will sit within Grupo Salinas, owner of TV Azteca, and will be led by the director of the latter’s international arm, Fidela Navarro, whose replacement at TV Azteca International has not yet been announced.

The first project on the fledgling studio’s slate is a coproduction with Sony Pictures Television based on the story of Mary Magdalene, which Salinas said will be one of the most ambitious series ever to be produced in Spanish.

“It’s going to be a next-level production in Latin America. We’re starting with Spanish-language programming but we can do English too. If TV Azteca wants to buy the content that’s great, but if it doesn’t that’s great too,” said Salinas.

The exec, who has undertaken sweeping changes at TV Azteca since becoming CEO in 2015 in order to make it appeal to a younger demographic, said that Dopamine had been set up in response to increasing audience demand for high-end content.

Discussing the differences between TV Azteca and Dopamine, Salinas said that the latter will have a “working capital” of US$200m to allow it to produce high-end scripted content, and also possibly children’s shows.

“We cannot compete with content worldwide that’s being done with much larger budgets than ours, but with Dopamine we’ll be able to do that.”

TV Azteca owns and operates flagship Azteca Trece (Azteca 13); a repositioned Azteca 7, now aimed at a younger, more affluent adult audience; new news and info channel adn40; and new local community-focused regional network a+ in Mexico.

It also operates Azteca Trece Internacional, reaching 13 countries in Central and South America, and is part of the Azteca América network in the US.

In related news, TV Azteca and the international division of Israeli broadcaster Keshet have agreed a co-development deal for scripted content targeted at the US Hispanic market.

TV Azteca and Keshet International (KI) will co-develop and produce an as-yet-untitled Spanish-language series consisting of 60 episodes that will air on TV Azteca.

It will be developed under the KI banner and coproduced with TV Azteca in-house with a view to launching in 2018. KI will distribute the series globally.

The development of the series will be led by Joshua Mintz, deputy president of TV Azteca, and Kelly Wright, VP of distribution and new business, who will oversee the project on behalf of KI.

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