On January 28, 2020, Viva—or the media giant Viva Communications, Inc.—gathered its pool of stars and directors, creatives, business partners, and the entertainment and business press under one roof for one special announcement.
On that night, at the grand ballroom of the Novotel Manila in Quezon City, Viva Chairman and CEO Vic del Rosario, Jr., talked about the grand plan of Viva for the year 2020. Thus, the event was called Viva 2020 Vision.
“As sign of our confidence in Philippine cinema, we are investing 1 billion pesos just for 2020. Hindi po ito multiple years kundi this year,” said the Viva topman at the said event.
“Ganyan po kami ka-seryoso at excited for 2020. And to fulfill this vision we have gathered the best creative minds in the industry and match them with the biggest and brightest stars of the land.
“There will also be strategic alliances with both local and global partners to push the envelope in terms of concept and quality.”
At that time, Viva has committed to show 34 movies in 2020, with half of it already finished and just awaiting playdates.
Then the pandemic happened. Movie houses are closed down.
That greatly affected Viva’s grand plan. But with undamped spirit, Viva—under the leadership of action man Boss Vic del Rosario—mustered its strength, faced then pandemic head on, and focused its energy on another huge investment.
Alongside the committed 34 movies for 2020, the visionary Boss Vic has another grand business scheme up his sleeve.
In fact, prior to 2020, he has already been silently creating what he wants to be country’s biggest Filipino streaming platform—VivaMax—as its “pasabog” for its 39th anniversary in November 2020.
He just scouted for the right people, so to speak, to help him actualize his vision. And now, it’s coming into fruition.
Boss Vic del Rosario has invested heavily in digital content and production in the past years and says that “Viva has the biggest library for films and music, we have the biggest stars, the best directors, creative and production teams. We remain committed to releasing one new series or movie every week so we allocated a minimum of PHP6 billion production budget over the next 5 years. All these are proudly Filipino made and we can’t wait for Filipinos to enjoy it on VivaMax! Atin’to.”
Think of a star and he or she has probably done a movie or two with Viva. Then there’s concerts and music videos, TV shows, and more. With 39 year’s worth of creative content, Viva definitely needs a bigger platform to showcase all of these!
Thus, with the largest film library in the country at its core, Viva, through VivaMax will feature the most iconic superstars that have graced the silver screen including the likes of Sharon Cuneta, Robin Padilla, Fernando Poe, Jr., Vilma Santos, Nora Aunor, Eddie Garcia, Phillip 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.
VivaMax will also feature originally produced contents starring some of the brightest stars in the industry today 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 most brilliant directors like Erik Matti, Jason Paul Laxamana, Paul Soriano, Joyce Bernal, Irene Villamor, Mikhail Red, Yam Laranas, Pedring Lopez, Darryl Yap, RC delos Reyes, Lawrence Fajardo, and other prolific creators.
Viva will also partner with other content producers like Reality, Star Cinema, Black Cap Pictures, BlackOps Asia, Project 8, IdeaFirst, etc. to deliver diversified shows that will appeal to various audience tastes.
As an added bonus, you will also have access to the Tagalized version of biggest Korean blockbusters, Asian and Hollywood content.
“Vivamax is a great catalyst during these difficult times,” says the equally excited Vincent Del Rosario, Viva President and COO. “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.“
Valerie Del Rosario, Viva’s SVP and Head of Content, will spearhead content creation for the platform. And she says that the goal of VivaMax 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.”
She added: “ We’re seeking to move the needle in terms of creating quality content while at the same time making sure that they are truly enjoyable and binge-worthy.”
To further understand what VivaMax is all about, we sent questions to Mr. Ronan de Guzman, Viva Max’s COO. Mr. de Guzman—whose experience and success record include stints at ABS-CBN, MTV, Globe Telecom, Solar Entertainment, Viu.com and Gazprom Media Russia—is Boss Vic’s newest off-cam gem.
Here’s our Q&A:
Pikapika: As far as we know, Boss Vic has been itching to launch this project already. When you came in, how far was Viva into its creation. Or were you the one that did the blueprint for Viva?
Ronan: Si Boss Vic ang may vision at timing para sa VivaMax. Noong nag-usap kami nung April 2020, clear na sa kanya ang plano sa bawat aspeto ng VivaMax. Kailangan lang niya na may experience mag-implement.
Pikapika: Without saying the exact figure, how costly is this project?
Ronan: The standard cost for this type of project per year is US$ 4 million. But because Viva owns all the content, Vivamax will have the capacity for a real long-term permanent business.
Pikapika: If people say, ginaya lang sa Netflix or iWant ng ABS, how will you defend it?
Ronan: VivaMax is Viva content. ’Yun pa lang, iba na. Iba rin ang presyo...mas mura ang VivaMax. Lahat ng content nasa mobile streaming na. And viva has to adapt its content business to the new technology. Sabihin ng “gayagaya” huwag lang kulelat, talo, at luma.
Pikapika: Sa umpisa, it will be purely Viva content... kelan papasok ang co-prod at mga international titles.
Ronan: ’Yung co-prod nakalatag na for production and launch simula first year of operations. Lahat exclusive sa Vivamax. Meron na rin mga international titles (Hollywood, Korean, Asian) na may Tagalized version pa sa launch ng VivaMax.
Pikapika: Ano ’yong feature ng VivaMax na wala sa iba?
Ronan: Because Viva owns the contents and represents the artists, may mga features na ilalabas na interaction with artists, music playlist ng soundtrack, at madaming exclusives na sa VivaMax lang mapapanood. Meron din showbiz news. In fact, ’yung pikapika.ph website link naka-lagay na sa loob ng VivaMax.
Pikapika: Parang it’s really at par with Netflix sa laki ng scope, do you foresee this as the Pinoy Netflix na talaga na instead of other companies creating their own streaming platform na ganito, bebenta nalang nila sa VivaMax.
Ronan: Exactly. VivaMax is for the Filipino audience and for all the movie and TV producers; and all the artists. This is the vision of Boss Vic. Yes, madami na ang lumapit na gustong makipag-partner sa VivaMax dahil nga mas mahal magtayo ng sarili. Puno na rin ang mamahaling airtime sa telebisyon, sarado ang mge sinehan...
Pikapika: If that happens, as far as outsourced contents are concerned, may separate department na ba ready to screen new acquisitions? More or less, ano ang criteria in choosing contents?
Ronan: All content selection is done by Boss Vic, Vincent, Veronique, and Valerie del Rosario. They are the ones with the magic touch sa kwento, artista, and production. Hindi po iba ang VivaMax sa Viva. VivaMax is Viva (films, tv, music, talent).
Pikapika: Will PBO (Pinoy Box Office) and Sari-Sari TV still exist after this or VivaMax will be the one and only source of Viva contents?
Ronan: PBO, Sari-Sari and all other entertainment platforms will continue to exist. VivaMax is another option Viva offers to its audience.
Pikapika: Kung hooked na ang isang tao sa Netflix...how will you entice him to try VivaMax?
Ronan: Simple lang ang sasabihin ko: 1. Sa susunod na buwan, kung may extra kang budget, sana subukan mo kami; 2. Sa panahon na ganito na ang mundo, sana supportahan ninyo ang likhang Pilipino.
Pikapika: Will Viva still do business with Netflix once Viva Max is launched?
Ronan: Yes. Because Viva is in the business of entertainment content regardless of the brand of the device or channel or technology platform or service provider.
Pikapika: After pandemic at may sine na...why will I still watch sa sinehan kung after a few months nandito na Viva Max? Napag-usapan na ba how long ie-embargo ang napalabas sa sine bago malagay sa VivaMax?
Ronan: ’Yung sinehan – katulad ng cable, satellite, free tv, radio, print, online – ay hind mawawala at dapat natin supportahan. Ang magbabago ay ’yung occasion and opportunity to enjoy watching a movie again. Baka mas social occasion or gimik yung manood sa sinehan. Tapos, ’yung VivaMax, mas gugustuhin during personal alone time.