Takeaway Whats Cooking In China
By Catherine Lackner
Miami-based NPN Media has signed a deal with Austin Street Productions to produce content in China, most notably a television cooking competition called "Chinese Takeout," which is slated for distribution in the US, Latin America and Asia later this year.
It’s a part of an expansion strategy that will bolster NPN Media’s already substantial presence in digital media and plant its footprint in Asia and Latin America.
NPN Media, founded here in1997 as NewsProNet, originally produced news content for distribution at the local and national levels. Its signature product, SweepsFeed, was rolled out in 1998. Within two years, according to the company’s website, "SweepsFeed reached almost 80% of US households and counted some of the most successful newsrooms in the country as clients." That dominance continues today.
Know MoreTV, a Web content service, was founded in 2000. NPN Media’s products now include HealthDayTV, which distributes health and lifestyle content, Be GeniusTV, which focuses on motivation and careers, and Entérate Tu, which offers content in Spanish. Over the years, the company’s clients have included CBS, ABC, NBC, Gannett, BELO, Raycom Media, Scripps and Post-Newsweek.
Amazingly, over its 15-year history — which includes news reports, short features and the like — NPN Media has never received a request for a retraction, said Robert J. Rodriguez, its CEO. "We vet our news very carefully."
In 2001, NBC became the principal owner, and a Spanish-language version of SweepsFeed, called Impacto, was launched and delivered to NBC’s Telemundo affiliates. In 2008, Mr. Rodriguez, who had operated NatCom Marketing for 30 years, put together a group of investors to purchase NPN Media. Last year, it was bought by a private equity firm headed by Rick Ray.
"We began with the premise of supplying news to TV stations," Mr. Rodriguez said this week. "We realized that if you could create and deliver content to the stations, you could create more value and give local operators an advantage. It was financed with a national profile, and in all instances content is localized when it’s shown in the local markets."
Eventually, "We wanted to take advantage of the digital revolution," Mr. Rodriguez said. "The world of digital is extremely exciting, because of the compression in time — people want their news right now. We wanted to be on all platforms."
Most Internet outlets "really like short-form content;" videos that are shorter than three minutes, he said. "If we could provide news in that format, that would be a competitive advantage." NPN Media now has as clients 350 Internet outlets, including MSN, Yahoo, AOL and other national and international names. The company is growing in several directions at once.
"One of things we’re doing aggressively is looking at China, introducing the Chinese experience to international viewers," Mr. Rodriguez said. The premise of "Chinese Takeout" is that international chefs, having been brought to Beijing, must create traditional Chinese dishes with local ingredients, which then are judged.
"We have several themed shows that have China in their DNA, and will be producing a lot of China-related short-form content that we can get to international viewers," he added.
NPN Media is also testing proprietary technology that will allow it to forecast demand for news topics based on predictive algorithms. The company will then be able to produce content for television or the Internet to satisfy that information gap, and distribute it within 48 hours.
"This company is really agile; we can turn content on a dime," Mr. Rodriguez said. "If the demos do what I think they will, we will start a transformation. It’s an example of content being married to innovation. It’s predicting what people want to see, and it’s incredibly exciting."
The company maintains an office in New York City, will open one soon in Beijing to oversee the China-related content, and is planning to expand to either Mexico City or Bogota before September. In Miami, the firm has doubled its space, is contemplating taking even more space, and is hiring.
"I was here for 30 years and didn’t think of going anywhere else," when he became the company’s CEO, Mr. Rodriguez said. "Other than New York, it’s the most dynamic city in the country. We knew that in this new media world, Miami would be a thriving market, and it is."To read the entire issue of Miami Today online, subscribe to e-MIAMI TODAY, an exact digital replica of the printed edition.