Sao Paulo — The billionaire Marinho family, owners of Grupo Globo, Brazil’s leading media conglomerate, is navigating a landscape of escalating competition in the sector. They are addressing this challenge by strategically unifying their businesses, encompassing free-to-air TV, pay-TV, streaming, and digital platforms, all under the banner of “Television 3.0″, Manuel Belmar, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Legal, and Infrastructure Director at Globo, said in an interview with Bloomberg Línea.
“We are gearing up for the future when TV 3.0 will definitively break down the barriers between antenna and the internet. This move will seamlessly integrate free-to-air TV into the digital realm, opening up new business opportunities, such as the potential for targeted advertising on free-to-air TV,” explained Belmar.
This new generation of TVs will not only allow users to watch linear and on-demand content via streaming but will also enable interaction with applications, access to personalized services, and the use of connectivity for a novel multimedia experience. Belmar emphasized, “TV connectivity is already a reality. Today, 60% of Brazilian households already own connected TVs,” highlighting the company’s proactive stance.
Globo’s response to the entry of competing platforms includes cost discipline, reflected in the departure of established names from the field of drama and journalism in recent years. Simultaneously, the company has made significant investments, totaling R$5 billion in 2023, in content, rights, and technology, as shared by Belmar.
The financial structure of Globo, with a cash position of R$13.8 billion, surpassing the total debt of R$5.4 billion, allows for a strategic analysis and potential mergers and acquisitions (M&A) operations to complement the company’s strategies, according to credit rating agency Fitch.
As an example, through the capital market, Globo acquired shares to become a significant shareholder in Eletromídia, the leading company in the national out-of-home (OOH) media market. The company currently holds 27% of the capital, an investment estimated at nearly R$1 billion based on market estimates.
The three children of founder Roberto Marinho – João Roberto Marinho, Roberto Irineu Marinho, and José Roberto Marinho – serve as the main heirs and managers of the group. João Roberto is the chairman of the board and the president of Grupo Globo.
In the upcoming season, Globo’s flagship for audience and advertising will be the 24th edition of BBB (Big Brother Brasil), scheduled to start on the 8th of next month and expected to conclude in May. It will feature at least 14 sponsoring brands, with estimated quotas ranging from R$20 million to R$114 million, including advertisers like Mercado Livre (MELI), Stone (STNE), and Seara, a JBS (JBSS3) company.
“In just one day, Globo reaches almost 80 million people, a milestone that any video platform takes at least a month to achieve. In just one week, Globo connects with two-thirds of the country’s population. We invest in technology and consumer knowledge, all while keeping our focus on the main thing: strong and secure Brazilian content for both brands and consumers,” added the CFO.
Belmar highlighted the reach achieved by the group’s digital platform, even in the face of competition from global giants like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney Plus.
“Globoplay is already the largest Brazilian streaming platform, the second most consumed in the country, and the online video platform with the highest average daily consumption on Brazilian TVs. Nearly 3 billion hours were consumed in 2023, a 20% growth compared to 2022,” he stated.
According to Fitch analysts, Globo faces such a challenging scenario that it contributed to the decision to downgrade its long-term local currency issuer rating from BB+ to BBB-.
“The downgrade reflects Globo’s volatile operating results, lower profitability compared to international peers with investment-grade ratings, the challenging trend of audience fragmentation on digital and linear distribution platforms, and the decline in pay-TV subscription base,” justified the credit rating agency in a note a month ago.
This interview with Manuel Belmar, CFO of Grupo Globo, was edited for clarity.
Globo faces growing competition from other platforms for viewers and advertisers in a market characterized by increasing audience fragmentation and changing consumer preferences. What is the strategy to tackle this scenario?
Hyperconnectivity has intensified content consumption, and the profound industry transformation propelled by technology led us to thoroughly review our operation and strategy three years ago. We initiated the movement to strengthen our business mix, and today, we have a unique offering of content and platforms in the market. We possess one of the most powerful portfolios in the country and a secure environment for the audience and our commercial partners.
This transformation positions us as leaders in free-to-air TV, pay-TV, and digital. We have the unmatched reach of TV Globo, the diversity of our pay-TV channels, the vitality of our digital products – such as G1, GE, Gshow, Cartola, and Receitas – and Globoplay, a crucial player in our strategy as the primary hub for digital content at Globo.
According to Fitch, Globo has invested in various areas, from live events to the Globoplay subscription video-on-demand service. What is the value of the investment, and what is the rationale for prioritizing certain areas?
In 2023, we invested R$5 billion in content, rights, and technology. At Globo, Brazilian content is at the core of everything we do. It is the central pillar of our strategy to maintain relevance in a market where attention is scattered. If the way people consume changes, we transform ourselves. We have the most potent content portfolio in the country and are the largest investors in the independent audiovisual market in Brazil. Our strategy is and will continue to be ensuring that Globo’s content is wherever the consumer is. We are preparing for TV connectivity, which is already a reality. Today, 60% of Brazilian households already own connected TVs, with a 41% growth in consumption compared to last year, and 77% of this consumption is on free-to-air TV or pay-TV.
How has Globo prepared for this era of connected TVs?
This digital transformation journey has also guided our data strategy, enriching consumer experiences and our digital products and services. We have advanced in new digital advertising offerings. We have exclusive solutions in the Brazilian market that combine the strength of our content with formats ensuring delivery to clients’ target audiences. Today, we have 140 million GloboIDs, almost the entire connected population in Brazil, with over 1,900 possible segmentation combinations to deliver targeted advertising for advertisers and personalized content for consumers.
We are already preparing for the future when the so-called TV 3.0 will definitively break down the barriers between antenna and internet. It will insert free-to-air TV into the digital environment, opening up new business opportunities, such as the potential for targeted advertising on free-to-air TV.
While looking to the future, Globo has to navigate the present. What were the company’s operational results in 2023, and what has been most decisive?
Even in an intensely competitive scenario, we are closing 2023 with excellent results. In the accumulated nine months [most recent available data], we had the best net revenue since 2016, totaling R$11.091 billion, mainly driven by growth in advertising revenue and the subscriber base of digital products like Globoplay and Premiere Play.
The year-to-date Ebitda is R$934 million, 24% higher than the first nine months of 2022. Globo’s results reflect the strong performance of its operations as a whole and a continuous evaluation of the country’s economic landscape and business conditions.
As part of the transformation process of recent years, the company maintains cost discipline and invests in significant growth initiatives. The market has responded very positively to our strategy of integrating free-to-air TV, pay-TV, streaming, and digital businesses, creating a unique ecosystem in the Brazilian market and a mix of businesses that blend intermediated offers and direct-to-consumer (D2C).
Globo paid R$653 million in acquisitions in 2023 until the third quarter, mainly related to the 27% stake in Eletromídia. How does this business contribute to Globo’s commercial strategy?
The investment in Eletromídia is part of our strategy to expand our portfolio. We are pleased with our current participation. The out-of-home (OOH) media segment in the advertising market is highly complementary to Globo’s business. With our involvement, we can extend our presence in the audience’s journey and offer increasingly comprehensive solutions to our commercial partners.