Diego Ávalos netflix

Diego Ávalos, Álex Pina, and the Next Chapter of Netflix’s Success Story

Could Netflix get any better? Diego Ávalos thinks so — and is working hard to make it so. The streaming service continues to grow as a global entertainment provider, with 83 million of its 247.2 subscribers based in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region. In recognition of the need for localized content that appeals to more diverse viewership, Netflix has doubled down on its commitment to original programming, particularly in Spanish. Spearheaded by Diego Ávalos, Netflix vice president of content for Spain, Portugal, and the Nordics, the company has expanded its Spanish-language offerings while increasing global appeal. From enhanced local production facilities to increased investment in Spanish talent, Netflix and Ávalos, along with creatives like Álex Pina, are poised to take streaming on demand to a new level.

The California-based streaming service has achieved new heights recently as it continues to expand its services across the globe. In fact, EMEA subscriber counts surpassed that of the U.S. and Canada combined in late 2022, demonstrating significant growth throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. While part of this growth was fueled by the streaming service’s expansion during the COVID-19 pandemic, numbers remain high as users have come to rely on Netflix as a primary source of entertainment.

With international audiences within its sights, Netflix has responded by expanding its assortment of local programming and originals as it looks to cater to regionalized audiences while also addressing global appeal. The company has made major investments, particularly in Spain, where its production hub has helped accelerate output.

Meet Diego Ávalos

Much of this growth can be attributed to the leadership of Diego Ávalos, Netflix’s vice president of Originals for Spain, Portugal, and the Nordics. Throughout his tenure with the company, he’s advocated for non-English-language content that exemplifies diversity while appealing to cultures and viewers outside regional perspectives. He’s long believed in the strength of Spanish-language storytelling and the power of creators to resonate with people from all walks of life.

“I’ve been here since the Netflix launch in Spain. This industry is a bridge between Europe and Latin America — there’s a strong cultural connection, and it’s a unique position from a storytelling and potential audience perspective,” Ávalos said in a recent interview with Deadline. This connection has evidenced itself through a robust portfolio of programming over the years that has proven global appeal, with the most-watched Spanish-language show on the service, La Casa de Papel (Money Heist), ranking among Netflix’s top series of all time.

What made Money Heist so special was its ability to cross-cultural boundaries due to creator and writer Álex Pina’s unique storytelling. Originally appearing on Spanish television to a mediocre reception, Diego Ávalos and Netflix realized the potential in the series and brought it onto the service as a co-production, supporting its transition to streaming and green lighting additional seasons to enable Pina to fully tell his story. The result was a global phenomenon, making it the most watched non-English-language programming on the service at the time.

Understanding the success of the show was primarily due to Pina’s distinctive talent, Ávalos looked to secure a future for the producer with Netflix for the long term. The deal became the first between the company and a non-English-language content creator, ensuring that Pina would continue to have what he needed to thrive creatively and develop additional quality Spanish-language content. The collaboration has already produced results, with development in the works on a Money Heist spinoff titled Berlin, which is said to be set for release in December 2023.

Álex Pina’s Versatility

While the Money Heist franchise continues to be a global hit, including the production of a Korean-language version of the series, Pina has demonstrated his skill in other creative universes. He’s written and produced a quite different series, Sky Rojo, a high paced thriller that plays with the genre and tells the story of three prostitutes looking to escape their pasts. He also created and wrote the show White Lines, a British Spanish thriller that proved his ability to produce cross-cultural content that appeals to regional and general audiences alike.

With the groundwork for success clearly laid out, Diego Ávalos and Netflix extended their exclusivity deal with Pina in 2022. In a show of diverse genre creation and a wealth of inspired, original ideas, Pina has already begun work on a new, yet untitled series. Based on true events that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic in Spain, the story will center on a group of rich Spaniards who invest in elaborate and luxurious bunkers to ride out the world crisis.

Netflix’s Commitment to Localized Content

Netflix’s commitment to creators like Álex Pina is further evidence of its goal of creating content that resonates across cultures and languages. Under the leadership of Ávalos, Netflix more than doubled the production of Spanish-language content in 2022. This includes content set locally in Spain, as well as branching out with titles such as Rabo de Peixe, which took place in Portugal.

“Our main goal is to satisfy the hunger our local audience has, but people can also discover these stories, no matter where they are in the world, in any language,” said Ávalos. “A Spanish story being discovered and being relevant to millions of people around the world is truly satisfying.”

This pursuit of local content has helped Netflix continue to connect with global audiences in new ways. Starting as a predominantly English-language service, the streaming company soon realized that localization and viewer relationships needed more than subtitles or dubbing. Supporting the creation of storytelling in other languages has helped Netflix continue to grow its audiences while also exposing viewers to new content representing different cultures and perspectives.

As Netflix grows its global footprint, relatable storytelling for Spanish and Latin American audiences continues to be an area of focus and importance.

Netflix’s Investment in Spain

To support this increase, Netflix established a production hub in Tres Cantos, Madrid, in 2019, the operations for which are overseen by Diego Ávalos. He’s also credited with helping to consolidate not only the hub’s day-to-day activities, but also the service’s entire Spanish-language strategy. Today, the site supports 10 sound stages as well as post-production, wardrobe, and costuming facilities to provide for local content development. “Hollywood should be jealous of what Spain is doing, and our facilities allow for this,” said Ávalos.

Part of this ability for growth is attributed to the country’s focus and the government support to make Spain a global audiovisual hub. From a robust talent pool to support from the country’s growing audiovisual infrastructure, Spain has made itself a prime filming and production location. “The talent in front of and, of course, behind the camera is one of the great competitive values of production in Spain,” elaborated Ávalos.

Diego Ávalos, Álex Pina, and Netflix remain committed to releasing Spanish-language content that takes advantage of the many benefits offered by producing entertainment in Spain. “Spain is one of the most interesting sets in the world, not only because of its scenic beauty or its geographical richness, but also because of the diversity of its heritage and its cultural value,” said Ávalos. This, along with the bevy of talent that the company has secured, is sure to provide exciting possibilities and new projects moving forward. Audiences can continue to expect high-quality entertainment that represents local cultures and storytelling outlooks that can resonate with them as people, no matter what language they speak or what country they live in.