Last April 26, 2022, Vivamax gathered its stars, directors, production staff, and the entertainment press under one roof for an after afternoon of revelry and thanksgiving as the platform reaches a new milestone of having 3M subscribers worldwide.
The event also doubles as the launch of the Summer to the Max ad campaign of Vivamax which promises more new contents in various genre at affordable rates.
Viva Communications Inc. CEO and president Vincent del Rosario and Vivamax COO Ronan de Guzman were both present at the summer-themed festivity to answer queries from the press.
Mr. De Guzman told everyone the interesting back story of Vivamax, their struggles to pull it through, and how they—through the inspired ministrations of the visionary Viva topman, Boss Vic del Rosario—managed to make it the success that it is today.
“Nasa gitna tayo ng lockdown exactly two years ago, one and a half months [into it]. And daming problema sa media...’yong isang kumpanya, nagsara; maraming streaming services, sinara— malalaking kumpanya, billions [worth], sinara. Walang sinehan, hindi tayo makalabas,” Mr. De Guzman started his narration.
“Tumawag sa akin si Boss Vic, sabi n’ya, ‘Ronan, tayo mo nga ito para sa akin,’” he recalled, referring to a paid streaming app.
“Sabi ko, ‘Sir bakit? Nagkakagulo ang ekonomiya?’ This is what he told me—and I want you all to remember it especially our people in production—ang sabi niya, ‘Kailangan nu’ng tao, may mapanood. Number two, kailangan ng tao ng trabaho. Paano ’yong mga tao namin?’
“So, he started this adventure. Today is April 26, 2022 ...two years ago at 4:15 PM, I signed your agreement. Exactly two years today. We did not plan this [event to coincide]. And thus, began our adventure for Vivamax.”
Though a digital expert, Mr. De Guzman says he had no idea what he was getting himself into. It’s an all new territory for him and for Viva as well.
“Baka akala ninyo po madali magtayo ng negosyong ganito... kukuwento ko sa inyo...Wala kaming alam pa’no gawin. We relied on absolute faith in Boss Vic... absolute faith! And we failed, we failed.
“We could not launch the product. We were denied by Apple and Google to launch the product in 2020 and we were about to give up. We finally launched January 29, 2021—six months, lupaypay kaming lahat.
“[Viva] People were learning the business. Pati paggawa ng inyo pong mga posters sa loob po no’ng app, alam ninyo po bago lahat yan. Pati ’yong kulay na pinili [sa logo and app design], para makita sa maliit na mobile phone, bago po lahat yan. Pati po ’yong mga trailer ninyo [na nakikita], bago po lahat ang proseso niyan.”
Everyone, he says, was dispirited except Boss Vic.
“Hindi namin alam kung maitutuloy namin. Six months later sabi ni Boss Vic, tumitingin sa akin, sabi niya sa amin, ‘Kayo talaga, oh. Either we’re all in or we’re not in at all.”
Even the entire del Rosario family, Vincent del Rosario admits, was not that confident about the new venture. Again, all except for Boss Vic.
“Si Boss Vic, may balls,” he said proudly of his dad. “Ano siya, malakas ang loob. Kami in the family, we were skeptical about the launching of the platform. We’ve been talking about launching a streaming platform siguro for three years na before the pandemic. And then, nu’ng nangyari ’yong pandemic, nakita niya ’yong shift to digital.”
Thus, Boss Vic pushed for it.
“In August, six months after we launched, 105% increase in absolute sales,” Mr. De Guzman, his voice booming, added proudly.
“Since August , no less than 25% growth, month on month—not just in viewers, but also in revenue. But not just in revenue, even in people.
“Two years ago, we were producing one movie a month. Guess how many we are producing now in Viva? One a week! We have finished 90 original and exclusive titles greater than two years of cinema. That was the promise of Boss Vic.
“Today, two years exactly, we are faced with three million subscribers. We have surpassed the requirement of Google and Apple from a million dollars in sales a month. We are now number one... top paid app or something on Apple and Google.”
De Guzman also stresses the fine fact that Vivamax is an al-Filipino product. Thus, the tagline, “Atin ’To!”
“This is a Filipino-made product, made by Filipinos, showing Filipino content. Purely Filipino. We should be proud, each and every one, we should be proud.
“So, today we’re gonna take you to that max because it’s just not a tagline, this is what we do every single day in Viva, we take it to that max.”
Viva CEO Vincent del Rosario, for his part, simply says his thank yous—in behalf of the entire Viva family—to everyone present at the event. For him, everyone in that room that fine summer afternoon, has contributed, in one way or another to the success that they are celebrating on that day.
“Gusto naming magpasalamat, s’yempre sa press. In two years, kagaya ng nak’wento ni Ronan, up and down and then ang daming challenges pero nand’yan kayo, tinulungan ninyo kami,” started Vincent. “So far, okey naman. Nabanggit nga na meron kaming three million subs. Salamat sa support ninyo. Every week, dalawa yata o tatlo yata ang presscon namin so, ang saya.”
He also acknowledged the support of all the Viva stars which came in the form of adjusting to the needs of the time.
“And then, of course, ’yong aming mga artista na nag-adjust sa new normal ng Vivamax, which is faster production, mabilis ang turn over and sinuportahan nila ’yong platform. Mahal namin kayo and kasama kayo sa growth ng platform. Obviously, ang Vivamax, wala; ang Viva, wala kung walą ’yong mga artista namin.”
Vincent also did not fail to mention the adjustments that their directors willingly made just so Vivamax could fly.
“And of course, last ’yong mga director na nandito ngayon, ’yong mga kaibigan natin. Sila rin nag-adjust kasi lahat may grand vision, e, diba? Alam n’yo naman, before the pandemic si Sigrid [Andrea Bernardo], hindi namin aatrasan on any budget. Sa kanya nanggaling, nag-adjust siya... binigay n’ya ’yong ano, and I think it’s a modern classic, ’yong Lulu. It’s a landmark series na naiba.
“Ganu’n din si Roman na very busy. Parang linggo- linggo may festival si Roman sa amin. Wag kayong mananawa kay Roman. At si Victor Villanueva na siguro apat na taong nililigawan ng Viva yan pero tingnan mo, ’yong unang project niya hindi sa Viva kundi para sa Vivamax.
“And then marami pa, si Direk Paul Basinillo, na gagawa na ng kanyang first feature film para sa Vivamax. Again, excited kami. Nandiyan si Direk Jeffrey [Hidalgo], si Direk Dennis [Marasigan]...I think meron pa kaming ibang director na kasama dito. Lahât sila...sila ang puso ng Vivamax.
“Hindi magiging ganito ang Vivamax kundi sa tulong ninyong lahat. At nandito kami, patuloy ang paniniwala ng Viva sa industry, naiba lang ang paraan ng pagpapalabas pero hindi nagwe-waver ’yong aming belief na ’yong Filipino movies is here to stay. So, mag-enjoy ho tayo. Thank you.”
When asked, what—besides Boss Vic being gutsy—is the formula for the success of Vivamax, Vincent says: “Malaking bagay na napanindigan namin ’yong commitment noong magsimula kami na maglabas ng fresh content every week.
“Baka in a way, ’yon ang naging failure noong ibang platform na hindi gaanong nag-work dito. Hindi nila na-fullfill ’yong commitment ng bagong content.
“Ang maganda kasi sa Viva, ’yong kumbinasyon ng mga kaibigan nating direktor at mga artistang kasama namin. Nandiyan lahat sila to support us kaya madaling mag-mount ng mga projects.”
But it still all boil down to Boss Vic’s unwavering faith in the local entertainment industry.
“At the same time, I think for fifty years nang si Boss Vic nasa industry, ang kanyang paniniwala, we have to go local, whether music yan or film. ’Yong tiwala niya sa industry, hindi nawala kahit for a time, for two years, nawala ’yong mga sinehan. So, tuloy-tuloy lang kami.”
“’Yong mga fans loyal po sa ating mga artista,” added Mr. De Guzman. “And as Viva develops new talents, it also attracts a different kind of market...mas matapang, mas bata. And doon kami talaga nakasalalay, ’yong success ng kahit ano’ng platform.”
But despite’s Vivamax’s success, Viva is still hopeful about the future cinemas. Thus, movie projects are still being developed for the big screen for the likes of Sarah Geronimo, Anne Curtis, and Vice Ganda.
In fact, they have six to eight finished films that are just awaiting playdates, said Vincent.
“Meron pa kami with Piolo [Pascual] and Jasmin Curtis, with Ten17. And then Sassy Girl adaptation ni Fifth Solomon, si Tony Gonzaga ’yon. Tapos na rin ’yon, hindi palang napepetsahan.”
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