LB Entertainment, Behind Netflix Smash Hit ‘Sintonia,’ Pact With Brazilian Internet Giant UOL for Factual, True Crime Production (EXCLUSIVE)  

LB Entertainment, behind “Sintonía,” Netflix’s biggest Brazilian hit, has signed a first-look deal with Universo Online (UOL), the biggest news website in Brazil which had 99 million unique users in March 2024

Published Time: 03.06.2024 - 18:31:30 Modified Time: 03.06.2024 - 18:31:30

LB Entertainment, behind “Sintonía,” Netflix’s biggest Brazilian hit, has signed a first-look deal with Universo Online (UOL), the biggest news website in Brazil which had 99 million unique users in March 2024.

In a groundbreaking swing for Brazil, but in line with the deal struck in 2022 by Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment and The Washington Post, the Brazilian strategic partnership will expand UOL’s brand of storytelling to all forms of filmed entertainment.

Owned by Folha de São Paulo, Brazil’s No. 1 and best-respected newspaper, UOL has a 78% Internet reach, only bettered by Google and Facebook, according to company estimates. It is renowned for the depth, rigor and time spent of its investigative journalism.

Headed by Felipe Braga and Rita Moraes, LB Entertainment (formerly Los Bragas) created and produced pioneering Netflix Brazilian sitcom “Samantha” (2018) and co-created with KondZilla “Sintonia,” Netflix’s biggest Brazilian hit which has now run to five seasons.

The UOL-LB Entertainment alliance comes fast on the heels of LB Ent. (formerly Los Bragas) launching this January Facto8, a brand new arm for documentary/factual production, with the release of “Linha de Frente”, a doc feature produced alongside Globo Filmes and GloboNews. Its next project, “Skate Divas,” is currently in pre-production.

UOL pioneered digital video content production in Brazil from 1998, including news shows and documentaries.

The partnership also builds on the soaring popularity of true crime and doc series in Brazil, from UOL’s own groundbreaking “PCC – Primeiro Carel da Capital,” made back in 2019, to most recently “Vale o Escrito,” GloboPlay’s true crime doc series on jogo do bicho, Rio de Janeiros’ illegal gambling culture and crime carnage.

UOL and LB Ent. have selected a first slate of stories to work on together, but have not as yet started to offer them to the market, Braga toldVariety.

“We are interested in powerful stories, in interesting characters, and will be working with all formats – finding the best and most entertaining way of approaching the true stories we choose to work on,” Moraes said.

UOL article writers and investigators will form part of writers’ rooms, said Diego Assis, UOL general manager of special features.

“Most of our documentary initiatives have been born from the collaboration of reporters who dig and investigate the stories, their editors and the scriptwriters that work in our audiovisual department,” he toldVariety. “We strongly believe that those journalists’ authority and close access to sources and documents on the subject matter that is being turned into a script make all the difference in the writing rooms.”

“We will be collaborating closely with the journalists and the whole team at UOL. From finding the story, to profiling the characters and determining the format all will be done alongside them. But the writers rooms will be set at LB and led by us,” said Moraes.

Varietytalked to Assis and Braga about some powerful reasons behind their alliance, announced on the eve of Rio2C, when UOL execs will talk on several panels:

Why the UOL- LB Entertainment strategic alliance? -

Diego Assis:Actually, we have been betting on filmed entertainment for a long time now. UOL is a pioneer in the production of digital video content in Brazil. We started our efforts in that direction in 1998, when video was still a novelty on the internet.

Since then we have created a variety of live news shows, entertainment shows, talk shows, short feature videos and documentaries, including partnerships with other production houses. Nowadays, we have more than 100 million monthly video views in all our YouTube channels, followed by around 8 million subscribers in total.

And linking to LB Entertainment in particular?

Assis: Partnering with LB Entertainment is another step towards that and comes to accelerate co-production of audiovisual projects that can benefit from our journalistic efforts. That includes non-fiction documentaries, of course, but not only – we also believe that we can provide research, consultancy and access to sources that can support and inspire the work of scriptwriters and producers in fictional projects. In both cases, we are interested in co-owning and exploring the intellectual properties that originate from those.

What’s the alliance’s appeal from LB Entertainment’s point of view?

Braga: There are commercial aspects related to it, naturally, such as the reduction of scripted projects commissioned by platforms, or even budget constraints. But our main motivation here is storytelling: Stories “based on true events” not only arouse the audience’s curiosity in a powerful way now, butbring at their core the type of human idiosyncrasy from which originality is born.

Also UOL is offering powerful IP, true-life stories of impactful authenticity whose mass public interest has been tested by publication online….

Braga:Yes. UOL has one of the most talented teams in investigative journalism today, integrated into the specificities of online culture. This deal not only allows us to have access to the stories published by them, which in itself would be an invaluable asset — but also access to the performance metrics of these stories on their platforms, almost as if having a “test-drive ” of these narratives before deciding to explore them in cinema or TV. Which of them resonated most with the audience? What was the public reaction like? How do the elements of this story relate to our zeitgeist?

Assis:In fact, we understand that previous responses that we have got – and measured with proper data – from our audiences to some articles that were already published are valuable assets for us and our partners to decide whether to dive deeper or not and turn them into film projects or series.

Because of UOL’s immense reach – we receive 9 out of 10 internet users in Brazil in our pages every month – we can function both as a thermometer and an oracle of the issues that most of our audience care about and want to see more. We also can create new journalistic content to help promote documentary films or series by the time they are released.

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