Armando Nunez joined CBS 20 years ago as president of CBS Broadcast International. Today he oversees all domestic and international sales of CBS programming and manages the company’s portfolio of international channels, including the recently acquired Network 10 in Australia. Before joining CBS, he worked in international sales for Universal, New World Television and Viacom. All of which makes him a seasoned veteran of the industry and someone who has witnessed most of the seismic changes it has gone through over the past four decades.
His first MIPTV was in 1982, and “through all the ups and downs and all the evolution that’s been mostly driven by technology, and all the different business models that have evolved, it’s still all about the content, isn’t it? At the end of the day, the business is driven by both the production of content and the purchase of content, albeit now on a global basis.”
Across his 20 years at CBS Nunez said “the enormous successes that are CSI and NCIS have been important milestones. Also, the execution of our Showtime international affiliate strategy with great partners that we have around the world — like Bell, Sky, Telefonica, Canal+ and many others. And I’m very proud of our acquisition of Network 10 Australia, and our boutique channel business that we have in the UK in partnership with AMC. Something that’s always been true to this business — and really hasn’t changed — is the importance of the relationships and partnerships that we have with everyone around the world.”
And while Nunez said it’s “impossible” to predict the global and sustained success of a franchise like CIS, the company takes the business of content creation very seriously. “We work very closely in the development process with all of our content creators, with our friends at both Showtime and our studio,” he said. “Blue skies and action” usually work, Nunez said in the context of CBS’s biggest hits. But what’s exciting now is that with the number of different platforms and types of delivery that exist around the world, “content doesn’t always have to appeal to a mass audience”. And the proliferation of new types of platform is only good news. “We’ve produced and licensed content to a number of different broadcast and cable outlets in the US and you know, now we have Netflix and Amazon and Hulu and others — I think, the more the merrier. It’s not a new thing to produce for new platforms.” It’s not a new thing to produce for new platforms.
He added: “The traditional model was that you had a piece of content and you’d license it to traditional platforms and its success was defined by windowing that piece of content to multiple platforms over multiple seasons. And then it becomes an important piece of your library that someone sitting in this chair 30 years from now will probably still be licensing. I don’t think that necessarily is going to change.” With the new platforms, “you’re not going to be able to exploit opportunities for a second cycle — second windows”, he said. “But the new business model supports that in terms of the fact that the monetisation is greater. Again, it’s all good news. It just makes our world more complicated in terms of which road you go down to monetise your content.”
For the future, “as one of the most recognised US brands, CBS is going to be around forever. And I think you’re going to continue to see a variety of different ways in which that brand is distributed both in the US and around the world.” As someone who has been at the top of his profession for several decades, Nunez said: “I’m an incredibly fortunate individual. I’m doing what I’ve wanted to do since I was a child because I had the benefit of watching my Dad doing a form of what I do now. I had the opportunity to see how this would evolve into a global business. Back then I saw the power of the medium and it wasn’t all based on the US model.”
His advice to young people entering the business today is: “Find your passion. You want to wake up every morning and feel excited. If you’re willing to make sacrifices and be on the global side of the business and have the opportunity to travel around the world and see how content is created around the world, what we do is fascinating. And there are not that many people around who understand what we do and how we do it.”
Armando Nunez’s Game Changers keynote interview is on Monday, April 9 at 17.00 in the Debussy Theatre. He will also receive Variety’s International Achievement in TV Award.