Next week, Brazil will have its first streaming platform with linear and on-demand content fully focused on favelas. Named +FavelaTV, the new streaming service is an initiative of Sou+Favela in partnership with the G10 Favelas (a non-profit organization that seeks to make a social impact in favelas), and will bring together, on a free platform, journalistic and cultural content ranging from arts and sports to news to serve more than 18 million Brazilians who live in favelas.
This number of people represents almost 10% of Brazil’s population. It is a huge under-used market from a marketing and commercial point of view. Founded in 2021, the Sou+Favela project was born precisely to attract investments to those areas and bring access to connectivity, culture, and information to this consumer audience. With that in mind, the company started by providing free WiFi to communities.
“In Brazil, we never had a project like this, of this size, for the favela, and the demand for connectivity has grown a lot in the pandemic. So we started to invest aiming for social impact. We generate connectivity and transform it into income, into a result for the business. We have created a huge production chain, which ranges from favela employees to the region’s internet provider, which is also engaged in this process,” said Marx Rodrigues, CEO at Sou+Favela, in an interview with LABS.
Now, with the streaming service, Sou+Favela wants to take cultural programming specifically designed for this portion of the population, since in the mainstream media, according to Rodrigues, there are no highlights to bring attention to this market.
The entrepreneur explains that the streaming platform, which at this first moment will only be available via the website, and not in an application, will work with two axes of content: entertainment and information.
“We are going to prioritize a format in which the content is generated from within the favela to within the favela itself, but that also goes beyond it. Nowadays, we know that people who live outside the favelas also want to know what happens there, and besides, people who live in Brazilian favelas also want to feel portrayed in the media. In the end, many of the artists that are going big on TV or on the internet, for example, came from favelas. We are thinking about producing reality shows, to show the evolution of different artists to show their trajectories. We want to do the same with sports. Several players on the Brazilian rugby team, for example, came from the favela of Paraisópolis, in Sao Paulo. So our idea is to cross journalism, culture, entertainment,” said Rodrigues.
Since Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world, the project should start with national distribution but, as time passes by, develop specific programs for each state. “We want states to have a part of the national broadcast, but also have a window for local news and content to be shown,” explained the CEO. To get the streaming off the ground, Sou+Favela invested its creators’ own capital, entrepreneurs with a business background.
Since the favelas house such a large portion of the Brazilian population, the project became viable quickly, as the market already had an expectation to explore this niche. “It’s a business that happens very quickly, as there is a great desire in the market to connect this segment of the population. It is a consumer market that moves R$ 160 billion,” said Rodrigues.
Also according to the head of the project, the big bet is on the representativeness of the programming. Even if now and then the public TV or even streaming channels talk about life in the favelas, the media is often focused on the profile of the white Brazilian middle class. Not only the market, but the Brazilian population itself longs for this representation that makes them see themselves and their daily issues discussed.
Partners, sponsors and spin-offs
When the project was greenlit with the G10, the objective was to have a social impact with financial viability. The operation, in addition to generating the content, moves capital, pays taxes, and generates jobs, accelerating the production market in the favelas. To maintain the platform in the medium and long term, the company must seek conventional sponsorships, such as television stations: “Our commercial audience is the same (of large media companies). We want Coca-Cola, Claro, Tim, Vivo, Guaraná, Visa, MasterCard, Banco Original, Bradesco, and so on,” said Rodrigues.
In addition to +FavelaTV, Sou+Favela also intends to explore the cultural market of favelas with a new branch dedicated to music, Favela Music. The project consists of a production company and record label that would manage local artists. According to Rodrigues, it is yet another tool to show the cultural wealth and potential that favelas have.
To be able to broadcast +FavelaTV programming throughout Brazil, the group is already negotiating with big names like Amazon. “We have achieved very interesting movements in this communication ecosystem that we have set up. Today, we have noticed a movement of large companies, such as Amazon Web Services, which is a partner of ours with whom we maintain a constant dialogue. We want to take this business to a whole new level. When I talk about creating state programming, technological complexity is a challenge that partners like this can help us overcome. When I want someone to access content in Maranhão (region of the northwest of Brazil) or Santa Catarina (south of Brazil), the system needs to be ready to direct the viewer to the local programming. But even investors are still not on our radar. Today, we are looking for partnerships, not investors.”