24 June, 2024
Diego Ávalos

Behind the Scenes With Netflix Spain’s Content Guru Diego Ávalos

Pause scrolling through what just dropped on Netflix and consider, how, exactly, is the magic made at the top-streaming service? Diego Ávalos — Netflix’s vice president of content for Spain, Portugal, and the Nordics — is a big part of the reason you’re checking out Spanish-language content on a Saturday night. This is how he does it.

Netflix launched in Europe in 2012 and started the strategy to appeal to European viewers. Shortly after, it hired Diego Ávalos to lead its content production in Spain, Portugal, and the Nordics. The execs in Los Angeles had no idea how much of an influence Ávalos would have on Netflix’s success in Europe and the demand for Spanish-language content on a global scale.

Today, Netflix Europe has become the second-largest TV company in the continent in terms of revenue.

The demand for Spanish-language content is at an all-time high around the globe — spurred on by series and films produced during Ávalos’ tenure.

Netflix may face growing competition in the US, but thanks to its studios in Spain and Ávalos’ leadership, it’s flourishing abroad. In fact, Netflix recently doubled its production capacity in Spain, a sign of just how vital the peninsula is to its future. And with Diego Ávalos at the helm, the future looks bright.

Meet Diego Ávalos, Netflix’s Content Guru of Spain

You may not have heard of Diego Ávalos, but you’ve almost definitely seen a show that he’s greenlighted for Netflix. La Casa de Papel (Money Heist), Élite, and Club de Cuervos (Club of Crows) are only a few of his major international hits.

Ávalos has a unique background that contributed to his skill set of efficient management, audience insight and most crucially, the ability to recognize a good story.

He was born and raised in the vibrant beach town of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. It was there that he was exposed to diverse cultures and gained an appreciation for stories from around the world.

“The creative side was always very deep in me,” Ávalos says. “Storytelling was definitely there all the time.”

After earning a degree in business and operation management (with a minor in anthropology) from Santa Clara University in California, he took a job as a consultant with Deloitte, where he learned to hone his management and operations skills in the real world — something he would need later as the manager of a diverse staff producing multiple projects at Netflix’s European studios in Spain.

Ávalos moved on to work for Yahoo, focusing on content and business development for Latin America and the U.S. Hispanic market. Here, he became acquainted with the content demands of Spanish-speaking markets around the globe.

When he got a call from Netflix, he was ready to turn his passion for Spanish and Latino stories into a global entertainment phenomenon. But he didn’t know it yet.

Spanish Stories, Global Success

As other producers created content with accessible, global themes, Diego Ávalos took a hard line. He wanted to tell Spanish and Latin American stories and support authentic storytellers from these regions.

He bet that weaving culture and history into Netflix’s Spanish-language content would enrich its productions and endear Spanish and Latin American culture to the world. He won that bet.

“This country has a really strong appetite for local content,” Ávalos told Deadline. “Television has had an incredible quality here in Spain for many years. That made it a lot easier to step into this market. But you can’t deny the ability for Spanish content to find global audiences.”

And he was right. Ávalos’ Spanish-centric strategy paid off big.

After producing his first hit, Club de Cuervos, he developed the world’s biggest Spanish-speaking hit of all time, La Casa de Papel, known in English as Money Heist.

The hits continued year after year, including Élite, The House of Flowers, and Ingobernable.

Today, demand for Spanish-language content around the globe is higher than ever, and Ávalos is hard at work developing new, boundary-pushing stories in Spain’s newly expanded Netflix studio.

Creating Content with Compassion

A big part of Diego Ávalos’ success is his philosophy of nurturing local Spanish talent and creating fertile ground for Latino storytelling. His goal isn’t simply to produce content, but to stimulate job growth and cultural awareness.

A natural leader and a new father, Ávalos tries to instill his values of compassion into his professional life.

“I value the importance of family, the importance of education, and the importance of helping others,” he says.

And he’s doing his best to promote those values in communities where Netflix content is produced.

“Since our arrival in Spain, we have generated more than 10,000 jobs for both cast and crew in productions across the country. The creative talent in Spain is unparalleled”,” Ávalos said.

He rewards his staff well, from the day players to the producers, and this is reflected in the consistently high quality of their work. He also makes it a priority to sign exclusive deals with the most sought-after creators, such as Álex Pina, creator of Money Heist, and Manolo Caro, creator of The House of Flowers.

Unlike other executives, Ávalos isn’t obsessed with the short term. He believes the long-term goal of building a thriving entertainment industry in Spain is the key to Netflix’s continued global success.

“We may have a smaller market [in Spain], but this industry is as strong as Hollywood,” he said. “The talent behind and in front of the camera is at the world-class level.”

Diego Ávalos on Netflix Spain’s Future

Thanks in part to Ávalos, the number of Netflix subscriptions in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region has surpassed that of the U.S.

Ávalos plans to continue that trend by producing more Spanish-language content than ever. In 2023 alone, he released over 30 new shows, films, and nonfiction series. Now that Netflix’s Spanish studio has doubled its production capacity, viewers can expect much more in the future.

Driving the demand for Spanish-speaking content with more hit series is integral to Ávalos’ goal of turning Spain into the Hollywood of Europe. But at the heart of his work remains a strong passion for storytelling — the same passion he had as a child in Cabo San Lucas.

“Our main focus is being the best place for creators to tell their stories,” he said. “We’re always looking for talent we believe in.”

As long as he continues to believe in the power of stories and to support the talent behind them, Netflix Spain will enjoy a bright future.

When can viewers expect the next international sensation from Diego Ávalos? Álex Pina’s Money Heist spinoff, Berlin, is set to premiere in December 2023. It’s guaranteed to make a thrilling splash.

Beyond that, Netflix subscribers can expect multiple new Spanish-language shows and movies each month starting in 2024.

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