Viva to the Max
On Nov. 11, Viva will celebrate its 39th Anniversary with a big bang — that is, the launch of VivaMax deemed to be the country’s biggest Filipino streaming platform.
Viva to the Max
CONVERSATIONS - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - September 6, 2020 - 12:00am

It is star-studded, featuring the company’s originally produced series, movies, documentaries, concerts and other content starring some of the brightest stars in the industry such as Sarah Geronimo, Anne Curtis, Vice Ganda, Aga Muhlach, John Arcilla, Bela Padilla, Cristine Reyes, Dingdong Dantes, JC Santos, Matteo Guidicelli, Xian Lim and many others, helmed by some of the country’s finest directors like Erik Matti, Jason Paul Laxamana, Paul Soriano, Joyce Bernal, Irene Villamor, Mikhail Red, Yam Laranas, Pedring Lopez, Darryl Yap, RC delos Reyes and Lawrence Fajardo. Viva will also partner with other content producers like Reality Entertainment, Star Cinema, Black Cap Pictures, BlackOps Asia, Project 8, IdeaFirst and others to deliver diversified shows that will appeal to various audiences.

More stars who constitute Viva’s core group will be featured: Sharon Cuneta, Robin Padilla, Fernando Poe Jr., Vilma Santos, Nora Aunor, Eddie Garcia, Philip Salvador, Bong Revilla, Cesar Montano, Regine Velasquez, Maricel Soriano, Lorna Tolentino, Richard Gomez, Judy Ann Santos, Claudine Barretto, Tito, Vic & Joey, Andrew E, and many more.

Viva Boss Vic del Rosario Jr. and children (from left) Vincent del Rosario, president/COO, Viva Communications, Inc.; Veronique del Rosario, president, Viva Artists Agency (VAA); Valerie del Rosario, SVP, Production and Broadcast, Viva Communications, Inc.; and VR del Rosario, SVP, Viva International Food & Restaurants, Inc.

VivaMax will offer content from all genres including comedy, drama, romance, horror, action, special interest, documentaries, concerts, music videos and live events. As a bonus, viewers will also have access to the Tagalized version of biggest Korean blockbusters, Asian and Hollywood content.

Said Viva’s Boss Vic del Rosario, who has invested heavily in digital content and production in the past years, “Viva has the biggest library for films and music, we have the biggest stars, the best directors, creative and production teams.”

Vincent del Rosario, president and COO: “VivaMax is a great catalyst during these difficult times. We are not only creating entertainment but also creating job opportunities for our partners in the industry. It is also a great venue to discover new talent and to produce authentic Pinoy content.”

All in the family: Boss Vic with grandchildren (from left) Verb del Rosario, SVP, Business Development, Viva Records, Inc.; Enzo del Rosario, VP Treasury, Viva Group of Companies; and Vanna del Rosario, VP for Multi Channel Network, Viva Communications, Inc.

Valerie del Rosario, SVP and head of content, “VivaMax’s goal is to redefine the audience viewing experience by making sure that the products we churn out are not your usual cinema and free-TV fare. We’re seeking to advance the needle in terms of creating quality content while at the same time making sure that these content are truly enjoyable and binge-worthy.”

A whole new business unit has been created and is headed by Ronan de Guzman whose experience and success record include stints at ABS-CBN, MTV, Globe Telecom, Solar Entertainment, Viu.com and Gazprom Media Russia.

“Viva’s own digital media service is not just a strategy for multimedia distribution. But, more importantly, it is a place for new ideas, concepts, talents, formats and even genre-bending exclusives,” noted Ronan.

VivaMax will also become accessible to millions of Filipinos abroad as the platform will be launched in key territories with large Filipino communities in North America, the Middle East, Asia and Europe.

How does VivaMax differ from existing platforms like iWant, Netflix and others?

Boss Vic: VivaMax will feature primarily newly-produced original local content apart from the existing Viva catalogue that includes all your favorites. VivaMax aims to complement your other existing subscriptions so you can enjoy a better variety of content from several platforms. Unlike other platforms that have come and gone, we want to assure our subscribers that signing up with us will become a long-term relationship as we have committed to spending a minimum of P6 billion production budget for the next five years with the intention of releasing fresh content every week.

How many percent of the content will be provided by Viva and how much from the other partners?

Boss Vic: Given that we have the biggest film library and our commitment to produce fresh shows every week, the bulk of the content or around 70 percent will be our own produced and co-produced projects. The remaining 30 percent will come from local and foreign partners.

It will take several months to consume/exhaust the current available Viva material (movies, TV series, concerts). How soon will new production (and how many) start rolling and what are the projects on the blueprint?

Boss Vic: We currently have several movies, concerts and musicals already canned and ready for release. We have already started production on new content, including original series featuring our biggest stars. We are assembling some of the most credible current affairs personalities who can produce relevant documentaries and special interest programs for us. We are also deep into pre-production on new music specials with the country’s top performers, including our very own, Sarah Geronimo.

How long do you think before people will go back (if they ever) to moviehouses and concert venues, and how will the entertainment industry be like after the pandemic?

Boss Vic: As of now, most of the cinemas are still closed with no clear schedule as to when they will reopen. Even then, theater capacity will be reduced to 50 percent or lower to accommodate social distancing.

Eventually, the audience will go back to the theaters as it is a whole different viewing experience. We estimate that the cinemas will open before Christmas and will continue to pick up thereafter.

Beyond the pandemic, I foresee a future when audiences will enjoy both the theater experience and the convenience of streaming such that both platforms will co-exist and complement each other.

Vincent and Valerie

What are the business do’s and don’ts, as well as lessons that you learned from your dad?

“Do’s: Collaborate. Good ideas spark from one person but great output is a product of many brilliant minds. Be open to the inputs of everyone in the team.

“Don’ts: Don’t take things personally. It’s business at the end of the day so difference in perspectives must not be a detriment to agree on deals. Essentially, a win-win situation is always better than a win for one camp.

“Maybe the greatest lessons we have learned and actually witnessed from Dad are to value loyalty and to always lead by example. Loyalty is a rare virtue nowadays and yet a great number of employees in Viva have been with us since years back. Even the young ones who, statistically, have a very short attention span in their employment, they stay pretty long with Viva. We make sure that in our own capacity they feel appreciated and valued just like how Dad does.

“Leading by example as we saw from Dad is to be what you expect others to be. If you demand your team to be passionate in what they do, then it should always start from you as a leader.

“Creating an environment where people feel comfortable is important. We realize that happy people make the best workers. We like keeping our teams happy because they feel inspired; when they are inspired and motivated, they create amazing results.”

Your dad might be “Old School” and it works. What “new blood” do you infuse into the Viva system?

“Much as we wanted to, with the 30+ years in Viva (and 13+ years of Val) we’re really not new blood anymore. In fact, we have been trained on Dad’s way of thinking for too long that we’d like to think of ourselves as his ‘mini-me’s.’ It’s really the third generation that brings in the new ideas as they are more in tune with the technology, trends, market preferences, etc. The role of the ‘elders’ in Viva is to fine tune these ideas so we will continue to appeal to a broader market, particularly the masses. Sometimes, there is a danger of being too advanced for the market. We always remind ourselves that we should serve what the market wants and not our own personal preferences.”

We’ll let Boss Vic have the last say

What are you most proud of about Viva’s 40 years of existence?

Boss Vic: Over the last 40 years of Viva, I am proud that we were able to adapt to the development of technology and delivery of content — from Betamax, VHS, laser discs, VCD, DVD and eventually online streaming. I guess we were able to survive over the years since the films we produced have stood the test of time. It also helps that since Viva has the biggest talent roster in the industry. This allows us to continuously create content at a faster pace than any other production outfit. Another advantage is the synergy that we feed off among the other business units of Viva which are also industry leaders — Viva Records, Viva Artist Management, Viva Networks, OomphTV! Multi-Channel Network (which manages over 500 digital influencers on YouTube and other social media platforms).

(E-mail reactions at rickylophilstar@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

VIC DEL ROSARIO
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