Jorge Granier, an executive producer of the CW’s “Jane The Virgin,” pitched his first production, a five-minute news package, when he was 15 years old. The Key Biscayne resident, whose family owns Radio Caracas TV — a long-running Venezuelan broadcaster shut down by the government in 2007 — has been hooked on TV ever since. And has spent his entire career from one passion project to the next.
His latest fixation? Póngalo, a Spanish-language digital streaming subscription service, he describes as “Netflix for Latinos,” which he created along with his business partners, his brother Carlos of Miami and television producer Rich Hull of Los Angeles.
“I started my journey with two thoughts. The first was ‘What ideas and stories can I bring from Latin America and reimagine for the general market in the U.S.?’ And that’s how ‘Jane the Virgin’ came to be,” said Granier, 35, Póngalo’s CEO. “And the second was ‘Where can I find content for Spanish-speaking Latinos on the new digital platforms?’ But I couldn’t, because there was nothing — so I started working on what is now Póngalo.”
That was about three years ago.
Since then, Granier, who at the time co-owned digital entertainment company GoTV with his brother, merged it with Hull’s Latin Anywhere. Together, they acquired technology startup, Inmoo. They opened an office in Wynwood, renamed the new company “Latin Everywhere” and later settled on “Póngalo,” which means “play it” in Spanish.
The digital streaming service — touted by its creators as being the only to focus on Spanish-speaking audiences — costs $5.99 a month and provides subscribers more than 50,000 hours of telenovelas, feature-length films, television shows, daily short-form content and original Póngalo-exclusives such as web series “Corazón Traicionado,” “Talion” and “Piel Salvaje.”
Granier referenced the declining ratings of traditional media outlets such as Spanish-language network Univision and recent initiatives by media companies such as Cox Communications, which announced the test launch of Spanish-language subscription video on demand site Glosi as validation that his efforts are on the right path.
“When you see the big companies turn to this, it tells you you’re on the right track,” he said.
“Television viewing habits have changed forever,” he said. “But what we’ve been able to accomplish with Póngalo is that for the price of a couple cafecitos, Spanish speakers can now access everything from telenovelas to children’s programming and documentaries to original productions.”
Póngalo also provides aggregated content from the U.S., such as Hollywood movies dubbed to Spanish, as well as an assortment of films produced in Latin America.
“We have Mexican novelas, ‘La Raza’ movies, films from Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Spain and Venezuela, that diversity has always been the backbone of our offering,” he said.
According to Granier, Póngalo founders have raised $5 million through partnerships with companies like motion picture company Revolution Studios, early-stage venture fund Canyon Creek Capital and Boca Raton-based global communications infrastructure company, Digital Bridge.
Carlos Granier, 49, Póngalo’s chief digital officer, says the biggest challenge in getting Póngalo ready for its launch on Nov. 10 was juggling all of the project’s “moving parts.”
“A project of this magnitude has lots of stakeholders and a lot of technology that wasn’t ready so in that sense it took us longer to launch than expected,” he said. “But now that it has, we’re happy to be the first in the market with the largest Spanish-language catalog.”
Among his contributions to the project, Carlos transitioned “tens of thousands of hours” of content from their original archival tapes into digital formats.
The Póngalo platform was launched nationwide in late 2016. The Granier brothers say they don’t yet have “available data” to disclose how many subscribers the service has.
“But we expect to have about 10,000 paying subscribers in the first half of 2017,” Jorge Granier said. “What we’re tracking is really positive and I’m confident we”ll hit our stride in the new year.”