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Q&A: Endemol’s Laurens Drillich

Laurens Drillich is senior vice president of Endemol USA Latino, a Miami-based arm of Endemol USA devoted to produce content for TV, film and other outlets targeting Hispanic audiences in the U.S. Drillich, a former managing director and creative director of Endemol Mexico, responded to a series of written questions from Hispanic TV Update about the company’s recent agreement with Univision to produce Vidas Cruzadas, a 15-episode Web novella scheduled to premiere in the second quarter. A native of the Netherlands, Drillich is also responsible for Endemol’s operations in Mexico. An edited excerpt follows:

Q: Endemol recently partnered with Univision to produce a Web novela? How did the partnership come about?

A: Many parties were involved in the coming about of [Vidas Cruzadas.] Endemol USA Digital works with Amistad Productions, which is owned by the two lead actors of the Webnovela: Kate Del Castillo and Guy Ecker. Together they contacted, because it is the main U.S. Hispanic Web site. Luckily, saw the same possibilities and opportunities as Endemol did. This is great talent, great content and a great new way of reaching the U.S. [Hispanic] audiences.

Q: Are there any other projects in place targeting this market?

A:As Endemol USA Latino, we strive every day to come up with new ways of targeting the Spanish-speaking population in the U.S. Our Miami office, although now also responsible for the Mexican territory, was created especially for that. Recently, we finished a branded entertainment project for JC Penney that was shown on Univision in late 2008 (Un Regalo Navideño). But it’s hard because of the economy. Therefore, we are renewing our efforts to do interactive (participation) TV on the U.S. Hispanic networks. Any revenue that is not driven by commercials is very welcome at this moment. And we will focus a lot on Mexico in early 2009.

Q: Does Endemol have a concrete strategy in place to target the 40-plus million Hispanics living in the U.S.? What is it?

A:Our strategy for the U.S. Hispanic market is not so different from our general market strategy or our strategy in other countries: the goal is to make the best TV around to please audiences, broadcasters and advertisers alike. We use our extensive format catalogue and our international experience (especially from other Spanish-language countries like Argentina, Spain and Mexico). What differentiates the U.S. Hispanic market is that we want to establish co-productions with Mexican networks to make the TV shows more affordable for U.S. broadcasters. Often -- though not always -- the particular taste and preference in TV programs is the same in both Mexico and in the U.S. And with titles such as Big BrotherFear FactorVas o no vas and others, Endemol has been hugely successful in Mexico (in partnership with Televisa) in the past.

Q: What is Endemol USA Latino all about?

A: Endemol USA Latino is a branch of Endemol USA (based in Los Angeles). It was created three years ago to cater the U.S. Hispanic audiences. As of lately, Endemol USA Latino is also responsible for the Mexican market. I joined the company as svp in 2008, but I was also responsible for Endemol Mexico from 2002 to 2005.

Q: Is the company focusing on content for online platforms only? What about television?

A:Endemol USA Latino, like all other Endemol companies in the world, focuses on all platforms and wants to be where the viewer and the advertiser are. Digital is extremely important to us, especially looking at the future. However, at this moment most of the money is still in television. So, we do it all.

Q: Besides Hispanic, are there any other multicultural audiences the company addresses?

A: No. Endemol USA Latino was created specifically for the U.S. Hispanic market and now, also Mexico. Endemol USA addresses all other US audiences.

Q: What would you say is Endemol’s most successful franchise in the U.S.? And are there plans to do something similar in the U.S. hispanic market?

A: Endemol USA has many great successes such as Extreme Makeover: Home EditionDeal Or No DealBig Brother and most recently, Wipe Out for ABC. Endemol USA also co-owns True Entertainment in New York that produces for all big cable networks and ‘young’ production companies like Original Media and 51 Minds. For the Hispanic market, we can make use of all their catalogs, as well as titles from Endemol companies abroad. But we do have to take into account the specific needs and preferences of the U.S. Hispanic audience and also the financial possibilities of Hispanic broadcasters.