By Cynthia Littleton
Netflix and Univision will co-produce a new drama series, “El Chapo,” based on the life story of one of the world’s most notorious criminals, the two companies announced Tuesday.
“El Chapo” will be available to Netflix members in the U.S. following its television debut on Univision’s UniMás in 2017. Episodes of “El Chapo” will premiere exclusively on Netflix in the rest of the world. The project is being developed between Netflix and Univision Story House, Univision Communications Inc.’s (UCI) new development and production arm.
“‘El Chapo’ is a great example of how Univision continues to innovate and evolve with premium storytelling formats. The IP we’ve developed from more than 50 years of award-winning news and investigations gives us unique and innovative ways to tell stories in a way no other network can,” said Randy Falco, Univision Communications president-CEO. “We are pleased to deliver this groundbreaking series to audiences in the U.S. and around the world.”
“We are thrilled to partner with the award-winning Univision Story House on the timely and globally relevant drama series based on the life story of El Chapo,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer.
The drama is the latest project hoping to capitalize on the interest in Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, with History recently announcing production on scripted series “#Cartel,” from former “Narcos” showrunner Brancato, and a documentary on the drug lord.
Netflix has also cut an unusual deal with Univision to promote the SVOD service in Hispanic homes by airing the first seasons of Netflix series “Narcos” and “Club de Cuervos” on Univision nets.
The first season of “Narcos” will air on the mothership Univision network later this year in advance of the season two bow on Netflix. UniMás will run the first season of Spanish-language dramedy “Club de Cuervos” in advance of that show’s sophomore season premiere.
“‘Narcos’ is a huge global success on Netflix and sampling the series to every single Spanish-speaking living room in the U.S. will give additional viewers the opportunity to fall in love with its unique storytelling. Promoting these original shows on Univision is a great way to further reach Hispanic audiences and help them discover Netflix,” said Sarandos.
News of the deal came an hour before Univision stages its upfront presentation to advertisers in New York.
Netflix is investing more in Spanish-language programming for its international services and clearly the SVOD giant sees opportunity to reach that audience in the U.S. as well. Netflix has a Mexico-set political drama series with telenovela star Kate del Castillo, “Ingobernable,” in the works, among others.
The deal may raise eyebrows in TV circles as Univision is offering an extremely valuable promotional platform to a competitor. But in a world of fragmented multiplatform viewing, Univision and Netflix may have calculated that there’s not much overlap in their respective audiences and thus less danger of cannibalization.
“No other media company understands Hispanic American audiences like Univision and this promotional partnership speaks to our ability to reach and engage our growth consumer with unmatched scale and depth,” said Falco. “We are pleased to work with Netflix and leverage Univision’s unique reach and deep connection with our audience to introduce millions of our viewers to their ground-breaking series.”