Univision launches ‘Flama’, an over-the-top network in English for youth

By Natan Edelsburg 

logo_yellow_on_redUnivision is continuing to invest in digital content, this time with a brand new network, Flama.

The network, which can be accessed at TheFlama.com is the “first fully dedicated over-the-top network providing premium English-language video programming for 15 – 30 year olds who are inspired and entertained by the Latin culture that is influencing today’s younger generation.”

We interviewed Flama General Manager, Steven Benanav about the launch and why it’s important for social TV.

The fact that Univision is describing Flama is an “over-the-top network” (OTT) is in itself telling of how important it is for this platform to be seen as more than just a website. For those who don’t the term, OTT, it’s a somewhat fancy industry term used to often describe TV network that’s delivered on the web without a cable provider. Netflix for example, is also an OTT.

Even at it’s launch Flama, already has a brand sponsor. “TheFlama.com launches with partner Trojan™ Brand Condoms, which has sponsored an exclusive series set to premiere in Summer 2014. Details on the series will be made available at a later date.” according to the announcement.

Programming for the network will include, “comedy, music, lifestyle and sports programming” and new series premiering this week that include ‘Super Accurate Soccer History,’ ‘Left Unattended with D-stroy,’ ‘Drop the Mic with Becky G,’ ‘Abuelita’s Review,’ and ‘The Johnny Sanchez Show.’

Lost Remote: What’s Flama?
Steven Benanav:
 As part of Univision’s strategy to meet our audience where they are, we have launched our first digital network of original content specifically designed for millennials. Flama is this new home for discovering and sharing original and curated video and other English-language content made by, for and with Hispanic millennials. It’s Hispanic at its core but with mass appeal.

LR: How do you use social? When did you first launch?
In addition to our destination at theflama.com, which we launched this week, we have also launched as ‘The Flama’ on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and a very popular YouTube channel. Starting on YouTube and social networks was an effective way for us to better understand our audience – the type of talent, content and format that resonates. It provided us with learnings that we were able to apply to both our website design and our original programming development slate.

We continue to recognize that social media is a critical part of our strategy to engage our community. We are intent on listening to our audience and creating content specific to each platform that talks with them, not at them. It’s an opportunity for us to establish our voice in a playfully unapologetic way and deliver content that our community wants to interact with and share.

LR: Tell us about your talent?
Benanav: The YouTube talent we are working with has a range of followers anywhere from the thousands to millions – spanning the worlds of pop culture, sports, music and comedy. For the original programming on theflama.com, we will be creating premium web content. We will have both scripted and unscripted formats across our verticals of comedy, music, sports and lifestyle.

Some of the talent featured will be more traditional talent while other series may include YouTube talent we are already working with. As for our YouTube channel, we will continue to work with YouTube content creators to maintain the programming our subscribers have come to expect. We will also use it as a platform to promote and window select content from theflama.com.

LR: How does this fit into Univision’s digital strategy?
Benanav: Univision has a long commitment to Digital. With UVideos, the first bilingual digital video network, Uforia, the leading Hispanic digital music service, La Fabrica UCI, a new in-house digital content production studio, and now Flama, Univision is well positioned to offer the best content available on any device, in Spanish and in English.

LR: You’re doing this with Bedrocket – what are they, what do they do?
Benanav: Bedrocket is Univision’s operating partner and helping provide the technology and development for the full destination as well as marketing and programming strategy. We are both producing content in-house and with third parties that we believe understand the voice of our brand.

Bedrocket is changing the way brands and media companies think about creating online video channels and destinations through proprietary technology, original programming and partnerships, while delivering new screens and technologies to well-established media brands looking to distribute content and better engage with their audiences. Bedrocket’s expertise with multi-platform properties complements Univision’s incredible understanding of Latin culture and entertainment.