When Roberto Irineu Marinho, now 65, succeeded his father, Roberto Marinho, as CEO and president of Brazil’s Globo Group in 2003, he promised to continue his legacy.
But Irineu Marinho, the recipient of the 2014 Intl. Emmy Directorate Award, had a hard act to follow.
Starting his career in 1925, the elder Marinho had transformed a two-newspaper publisher into Latin America’s biggest media conglom. He established Brazil’s first national TV network, Rede Globo, in 1965. In 1991 came Globosat, which now produces and operates 36 pay TV channels; Projac, Latin America’s second-biggest studio complex, followed in 1995.
Eleven years into Roberto Irineu Marinho’s mandate, the Globo Group has positively thrived. In 2005, the company made $2.3 billion. Per Eleni Marouli at IHS Technology, Globo TV advertising soared to $4.6 billion last year.
According to Marouli, Globo, its main free-to-air TV channel, has lost audience share to Google, Facebook and other online portals over the past decade, but its TV ad revenue share has hardly budged from 77% in 2005 to an estimated 72% this year.
And, when they catch fire, Globo’s juggernaut telenovelas can hit stunning ratings highs. In 2012, the finale of “Brazil Avenue,” a modern Cinderella tale, emptied streets, drawing 50 million viewers and punching a 56% rating, 84% share.
“Our most extraordinary hits happen when we present the public with latent issues, which haven’t clearly surfaced,” says Irineu Marinho. “ ‘Brazil Avenue’ (was at the) forefront of the dreams, values (and) aesthetic of Brazil’s new middle class, which wants to evolve and educate itself.”
Under Irineu Marinho, Globo has worked hard to diversify. In September, Globosat and Colombia’s Caracol TV announced that a Hispanic U.S. market pay TV channel will bow in 2015. “The first task is to get the best distribution. We are confident the homework we are doing with Caracol will take us there,” says Irineu Marinho. He also cited more diversification including Zap, a leader in digital home sales and goods classified ads service; and Som Livre, once a music label, now enjoying a second life as YouTube’s biggest multi-channel network revenue earner.
Given its large reach, “the main five agencies in Brazil are incentivized to sell more Globo inventory, which charges the highest media prices and hence yields the highest returns for the agencies,” says Marouli.
Per Irineu Marinho, “our growth drivers will keep on being based on Globo’s expertise in producing and programming quality content, as well as the ability to create space that allows our stories to be welcomed and incorporated by people.”