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Google’s Juanjo Duran: Leveling the Playing Field for Diverse Programming

Juanjo Duran, Head of Entertainment & Multicultural, Google
Juanjo Duran is a Google TV gatekeeper. (Image credit: Google TV)

Juanjo Duran’s job at Google has evolved from overseeing multicultural content to also taking care of general-market programmers. As head of entertainment & multicultural at Google, Duran is responsible for relationships and growth within Google’s platforms and ecosystems (Android, Chrome, Google Play and especially Google TV, where he focuses much of his attention), partnering with the likes of Peacock, HBO and Discovery. Ironically, he said, that shift was actually important for how multicultural content was seen within the company and beyond. 

“We needed to make sure multicultural content is treated the same way as any other type of content, and the only way to do that was to merge those teams and make sure it is the same priority,” Duran said. “A lot of companies have good intentions and a grasp of what opportunity multicultural content might bring but the reality is that it's always exceeded by general-market priorities. We at Google treat it all the same way.”

Juanjo Duran

Role: Head of Entertainment & Multicultural

Company: Google

Award: Executive Commitment to Inclusion in Television

Why They’re Being Honored: As head of entertainment and multicultural at Google, Juanjo Duran makes daily decisions that reflect the company’s commitment to inclusion on screen and behind the scenes.

A Passionate Technophile

Duran, who is being honored at the upcoming CultureX Conversations event (March 16) for Executive Commitment to Inclusion in Television, had studied business and was always passionate about technology. But he never imagined he’d leave Mexico, work for a company the size of Google or end up in the media, dealing with content. 

He came to America from Mexico in 2004 to work for Televisa, the huge content company, and has lived in Miami, Florida, since then. (Now 45, he is married with two sons.) After Televisa, he spent eight years at YouTube, overseeing content partnerships for the U.S. Hispanic market and then heading the Spanish-Speaking Americas. 

Duran is a super-organized thinker: Ask him a question and he is prepared with a long response that also answers your next three questions. As a “wannabe engineer,” he is also very curious about how things work, although he said he sometimes has to remind himself not to get bogged down in details and to delegate. He said his strong suit is “my ability to connect with people and understand their needs has helped me work with our partners.”

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Jonathan Zepp, head of Media & Entertainment Global Partnerships for Google Platforms & Ecosystems, agreed. He said he has always been impressed with how Duran “artfully leverages his diverse set of skills and personal experiences to build partnerships that enable inclusive and diverse content experiences." 

Those partnerships, Duran said, are about getting the content and “allowing it to flow freely within our ecosystem so we’re connecting the content with the users.” 

The company is also beginning to focus on women-led services and LGBTQ verticals. Emphasizing multicultural content is about doing the right thing, but it is also “a big business opportunity,” he said, adding that every company should have this approach. 

Duran said that in 2020, as society started focusing more on social justice, Google was well situated. While they don’t own content, they are able to choose what to put up front. “We want to educate people and make them think,” he said. “And we want to go deeper so people see that hate speech toward Black folks may be different than hate speech toward Asian-Americans.” 

“We focus on U.S. Hispanic, Black American and Asian-American content,” he said. “We want people to be able to see, for instance, movies aimed at a Black demographic all year, not just when it’s Black History Month.”

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Looking Out for Little Guys 

Duran said his team is bullish on helping smaller services play a role, too. “There’s tons of multicultural content, but sometimes these companies get stuck trying to compete with the big guys,” he said, pointing to companies like Kweli TV, FlixLatino, CanelaTV and BlackOakTV. “We sometimes fund them and we work with them on the back end to showcase and popularize their content.” 

Another crucial factor to Duran’s approach is to make sure services imported from, say, Asian countries, are not only included “but are treated the same way as U.S. services. Pushing them is extremely important for us and adds another layer of interest.” 

“This team has a passion for doing the right thing and giving a voice to everybody,” he said, “but it’s not just this team, it’s all of Google. There is a lot of cross-functional alignment with promoting all these demographics, across departments like merchandising, marketing, public relations and sales.” 

Next up for Duran is a new challenge: taking Google’s brand of multiculturalism global. “We are in the exploration process to learn how to tackle this,” he said. “We understand that multiculturalism doesn’t look the same in the U.K., Brazil and India. But later this year or next year, we’re going to be investing in and delivering on multiculturalism around the world.”