Vlad Riashyn: “The Number of Co-Productions in Development Is Higher than Every for Us”

The CEO of Star Media, spoke to ttvnews about the Russian company’s current strategy, based on the development of high-end content through international co-production with multiple partners across Europe, and the launch of its own OTT platform, LAVA, designed to deliver this content to new audiences all over the world.

After a long hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Mipcom finally presented a place for the TV industry to reunite face to face and catch up on the latest trends and everything that’s changed during these unprecedented times.

“This market presented very interesting trends for us,” said Vlad Riashyn, CEO of Star Media, who spoke to ttvnews in Cannes about his outlook on the current state of the entertainment industry and his company’s latest initiatives.

For starters, the executive divided these trends into two: “one the one hand, we have to thank global streamers for proving that not only English-speaking and US-production projects can be successful worldwide”, he explained. “Really, if the story is interesting, if it’s fresh, if it’s authentic, it doesn’t matter where it’s produced or in what language”.

“One the other hand,” he continued “these global streamers also want to take all rights from independent producers. And these two facts help us independent producers understand that now in this new age of TV and content, we can find new opportunities and ways for cooperation, to find stories which could be interesting and potentially successful worldwide.”

International coproductions with global potential

When it comes to finding these opportunities, Star Media stands as an expert in the field of coproduction, something they’ve been delving into for years and 2021 is no exception.

“The number of coproduction ideas that are now in the development stages is higher than every for us”, he explained, sharing just a few examples of the projects the Russian company currently has in development.

The list includes an eight-hour drama, coproduced with Israel, which would be the first Israel-Russia coproduction for TV. “It will be a high-end series. The story happens in Russia and in Israel. We are planning to shoot it next year and it’s now in the development stage”, the CEO said.

Then there’s the new six-hour series Silence, a Ukrainian-Croatian coproduction, with Croatian company Drugi plan, and with Ukranian streaming platform, oll.tv, and with Beta Film as a distributor. The story centers around human trafficking and is based on the book Election Silence by Croatian writer Drago Hedl. “We hope to make three seasons”, he said.

The executive also highlighted another project in Croatia, one with an Italian partner and one with their partner Dariusz Jabłoński, with whom they produced the Czech-Polish-Ukrainian coproduction The Pleasure Principle. “We discussed two new projects. One of them I’m sure will be a huge European coproduction, with a huge worldwide potential,” he revealed.

“It’s interesting that a lot of creative people around the world want to go together now. So this is very strong and interesting trend which we are seeing”, he explained.

Star Media bursts into the OTT market with LAVA

With so many new series to come, plus the thousands of hours of high-end content that Star Media already owns, it’s only logical that the Russian company to need many ways and platforms for its audiences to reach this vast catalog. In this context, they launched LAVA, a brand new OTT platform, which will roll out internationally in November.

“Ten years ago we started our cooperation with Google and YouTube. We started with our own channel, Star Media, and now we have a huge network, with around 60,000 hours of content. We have more than 30 million subscribers all over the world, and more than 20% of them are international”, the executive explained.

“We did research and understood how many Russian-speaking people there are in the world. Now we know it’s around 30 million people who understand Russian and they like our projects, and close to 100 million if you add friends and family. So how can we help them find our projects? And we decided to launch our OTT platform called LAVA”, he continued.

And how does Star Media feel about launching a new platform in a market that’s already as saturated as the OTT industry is? The short answer is confident, because of the quality of their content and its audiences’ preferences.

“We understand that our audience of people living in the US, UK, Israel or wherever, of course they choose global streamers or local streamer, but after that, maybe in third or fourth place, they will choose LAVA, because no other streamer can offer such a number of projects as we can produce, and our partners can produce”, he said.

“This is our strategy. On one hand, we want to produce high-end content which could be interesting for our audience and worldwide, for some of them, through coproduction. And on the other, we also want to reach our audience in many ways, through LAVA and our network on YouTube”, he concluded.