The Mediapro Studio Doubles Down on U.S., English-Language Content, Creates New Los Angeles HQ Headed by Juan ‘JC’ Acosta (EXCLUSIVE)

In a big strategic market swing, The Mediapro Studio is creating new U.S. headquarters in Los Angeles to double down on U.S. and English-language production for the U.S. and global market.

Laura Fernández Espeso, The Mediapro Studio CEO, has also confirmed Juan “JC” Acosta, the ex high-flying Paramount exec, as head of the newly created division, The Mediapro Studio U.S./Canada.

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Based out of Century City, the new U.S. operation will develop, produce and distribute for a global market English-language scripted, non-scripted reality and entertainment, documentaries and features, said Fernández Espeso, Variety’s 2024 International Media Woman of the Year.

That’s exactly the same broad-based production model that The Mediapro Studio has in Spain and Latin America, she noted.

The Los Angeles operation will incorporate existing TMS offices in Miami and New York, as well as Grup Mediapro’s new production facility at Great Point Studios in Yonkers, a New York suburb.

Acosta’s appointment is effective immediately. Key appointments in his L.A. team will be known shortly. A first TV-film slate will be unveiled in the next few months, Fernández Espeso told Variety

Acosta joins one of Europe’s film-TV giants. Expanding ambitiously its global sports transmission services and rights business while ramping up its international film production and its TV base in Spain, Grup Mediapro has driven hard over the last decade into premium TV creation, often via international co-production. Much of that growth has come from the incorporation of key talent – for example, Ran Tellem and Daniel Burman – as well as buying into companies, such as Erik Barmack’s Wild Sheep Content, or acquiring them outright – Latin America’s Cimarrón, or launching production joint ventures, such as Moonlyon with Penelope Cruz.

Housing its content business under the umbrella of The Mediapro Studio from 2019, the Los Angeles offices join 53 others around the world, over half their number engaged in production.

Since her appointment as CEO of The Mediapro Studio in 2020, Fernández Espeso has insisted, however, that her biggest priority is to boost and accelerate the company’s drive into English-language production.

TMS’s biggest hit to date, mystery crime thriller “The Head,” now readying its third season, was shot in English. Mediapro marked its entry into international high-end TV co-producing Paulo Sorrentino’s “The Young Pope” (2016) and “The New Pope” (2020). It has also backed other English-language content such as “Hunting Ana Bravo,” from Wild Sheep Content, as well as Fernando Leon de Aranoa’s “Perfect Day” and Isabel Coixet’s “The Secret Life of Words.”

Now, however, The Mediapro Studio, launched in 2019, is looking to take its English-language production volume to an entirely new level via robust growth.

In Acosta, moreover, it has accessed an executive who certainly knows how to fire up a slate: As president, Viacom CBS International Studios (VIS) over 2020-22, he launched and expanded studio operations across the U.K., Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Israel and Latin America, producing 3,000-plus hours per year and 60+ originals greenlit for Paramount+.

With broad business experience, he also served as ViacomCBS president – intl. studios, streaming & networks for Southern Europe, Latin America, Mena and Africa.  

“Grup Mediapro’s primary focus across all its divisions is the expansion into the U.S,” Fernández Espeso said in a written statement of The Mediapro Studio’s parent company.

“Grup Mediapro has been in the U.S. since 1998. Now, we want to go further establishing the studio at the heart of the global audiovisual industry and welcoming ‘JC’ Acosta as the head of The Mediapro Studio U.S./Canada. I’m thrilled to have ‘JC’ on board. His brilliant career and broad experience are the perfect combination to lead our strategy here.”

“The Mediapro Studio has seen exceptional growth over the last several years and their success has been rooted in their mission and vision of content and talent first. The vast array of narratives and content produced globally are exceptional and have inspired me to take on this exciting new role. I’m thankful to Laura for her vision and entrusting me with this new venture to accelerate The Mediapro Studio’s position in the U.S./Canada,” said Acosta.

Variety interviewed Fernández Espeso and Acosta about the new Los Angeles headquarters, and what they share in strategic vision, and passion for flexibility and diversity. 

Why double down on U.S. and English-language production, and why name “JC” to head the new operation?

Fernández Espeso: The U.S. is a priority market for the Group, not just The Mediapro Studio but all the Grup Mediapro. Our growth drive in such a large territory is another step in our global strategy. We’re not new to the U.S.. We set up offices in Miami in 1998. We’ve done good work from Miami and New York. But to double down on our U.S. presence, we have to be in Los Angeles. It’s at the heart of the business. So many of our clients are there as well as the agencies and major actors.

And “JC”? 

Fernández Espeso: Growth in the U.S. is something we’ve been talking about for a long time and when we enter a new territory, the first thing we look for is the best talent. So for me it’s enormously exciting and a privilege to be able to count on someone of his level, his international experience.  

It’s no coincidence, I think, that when Mediapro and Viacom looked to expand their production in Latin America, they very quickly began to team together to make “N00bees,” “Victoria Small,” “Los Internacionales” and “Cecila,” released over 2019-22. There’s a sense that you share share a similar vision, for example with regard to talent and co-production….

Fernández Espeso: Over the years that we’ve worked together, and even more so when we got to know each other talking about potential strategy in the U.S., I’ve realized we share completely a same vision of the business, whether the profiles of the executives we’ll hire or the content we’ll produce.

Acosta: Laura’s vision and what she’s really done at The Mediapro Studio is really what’s inspired me to take on this new role. It was very clear to me that content and talent were at the top of the strategy and being a content creator, a producer-distributor, really positions them with a strong competitive advantage in the market, making it a preferred partner across the board. Not having any kind of a screen or a platform that they were tied to has really allowed them to power up exponentially the growth that you’ve seen in Latin America. I understand The Mediapro Studio has 34 production companies around the world, and more than 30 writers on staff and a production output of 100 shows a year. It’s all been content and talent driven as loud as the vision with these relationships.

Fernández Espeso: One key thing that “JC” has mentioned is our enormous capacity for production flexibility. We don’t have one model. We are going to continue to making originals, but also co-productions or strategic alliances with content creators, talent and IP owners.

“JC” mentioned Mediapro’s large global spread. In an age where production efficiency is a conversation driver, will The Mediapro Studio U.S./Canada be looking for links with the rest of the Studio?

Fernández Espeso: We have at our command resources that are real and material around the world. Having a global network of production infrastructures allows us again to bring multiple options to the table: People with a huge experience worldwide allows for first-rate production.

And what kind of content will you be looking for?

Acosta: It’s across the board, as Laura mentioned, and Laura and I have talked about a focus on creative flair that’s bold, dynamic and fresh with franchise-building potential, looking at franchise fan-loved characters, universes and other IP and titles that are talent-backed of course, and with global appeal and making sure that we are being true to the narrative that we’re addressing or discussing and inherently to The Mediapro Studio’s ADN.

Talking about The Mediapro Studio’s DNA, when you were named this March as Variety’s International Media Woman of the Year, Laura, you stressed your passion for diversity. “The questions are: What stories we chose? Who writes them, directs and acts in them. What types of characters and what roles do they fulfil?” you noted. One suspects The Mediapro Studio U.S./Canada will share this concern….

Acosta: Absolutely. I’ve been passionate about this for years and this focus has been built at The Mediapro Studio, I will just continue being a conduit of that message. Laura and I have talked about the realities of consumption and the audiences in the U.S. and the diversity of people of color: the U.S. is diversifying faster than anticipated. We have to speak to our audiences and they’re currently under-represented but over-index at the box office and streaming. We have to ask about what is more authentic to those audiences.

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