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Netflix’s VP of Content Diego Ávalos on How Technology Elevates Sports

Most know Diego Ávalos for his career at Netflix and the major impact his leadership has had on Spanish-language programming on a global scale. From bringing Money Heist (Casa de Papel)  to the platform, to guiding the release of such shows as Through My Window (Atraves de mi Ventana) and I Am Georgina (Soy Georgina), Ávalos has certainly made his mark on streaming content. Netflix’s vice president of content for Spain, Portugal, and the Nordics is also an avid sports fan, which he believes parallels his love of storytelling. What’s more, he’s excited about the advent of technology in sports, something he has often applied in his content strategies.

Netflix’s Diego Ávalos Sees Technology Enhancing Sports Storytelling

For Ávalos, who is accustomed to producing content that lives on in perpetuity, sports now have a unique opportunity to take advantage of technology for storytelling purposes. Sports fans already create a narrative around themselves when they align with a specific fandom, making the team or the league a part of their identity. “Sports is such a fan-driven and, for some, life-altering experience. Fans really see it as part of their personality,” he says.

This gives teams, sports, and networks the opportunity to connect with fans through the art of storytelling. Technology and platforms such as social media and video archives help sporting events live on well past their advent. “Sports is very static,” explains Ávalos. “It lives, it ends, and then it’s over and then we’re on to the next game. But thanks to media and storytelling that those stories live on, you can continue to relive those moments,” Ávalos says. And the numbers tell a similar story. Recent data shows 69% of sports fans use emerging technology, including social media networks and video platforms like YouTube, to consume sports content.

Sports documentaries as content also appeal to Netflix’s Diego Ávalos, providing an intersection for several of his interests: notably, Netflix’s own The Last Dance, which depicted the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan’s run for their sixth NBA title. Using previously captured footage, the producers were able to put together a retrospective that encapsulated Jordan’s rise to fame while telling a cohesive and engaging story. “It was just such powerful, great storytelling, but also seeing the performance of one of the world’s greatest athletes of all time, and seeing how he worked through it, his teammates,” shares Ávalos. Technology also played a part in the series, with social media posts by ESPN referring to the series garnering a combined 9 million engagements.

Where Technology Stands To Support Athletes, According to Ávalos

Beyond content, Diego Ávalos sees technology as a pivotal component enhancing athlete performance and capabilities. He cites the innovative ways that sports professionals are applying technology to improve their outcomes both on and off the field. This includes everything from better performance metrics to insights about health, wellness, and nutrition that can optimize player well-being. “This is beyond sports and athletes. But I think the level of data and information we can access, thanks to technology, allows us to take better care of our bodies and be better overall,” said Ávalos.

This interest in sports and technology stretches beyond the athletes. Ávalos keeps tabs on emerging trends among brands that provide products and services to people with active lifestyles and a focus on general wellness. In one example, he cited Patagonia as a company that he follows. “I like them because of the alignment between values and actions. What they do, and what they stand for, and how they back both up,” he says. While primarily a sporting goods and clothing brand, Patagonia has also incorporated technology into how it creates materials to produce high-quality products that perform for athletes and other consumers.

It All Comes Back to the Human Connection for Diego Ávalos

Whether talking about high-performance athletic products or his favorite football team (Real Madrid), Ávalos always brings his insights and perspectives back to the human connection. From a young age, he has always had an interest in how people relate to one another, and he carried that fascination into a minor in anthropology during his undergraduate pursuits. It is through this lens that he evaluates not just the sports and entertainment content he consumes on a personal level, but also the material he evaluates and backs as part of his job with Netflix.

When it comes to sports, Ávalos sees the potential in connection and storytelling that technology offers. “If you’re a Giants fan, or a Dodgers fan, or whatever you are, football, basketball, football non-American, it just becomes part of your definition of who you are. When you connect that with storytelling, it’s a pretty powerful engine,” he shares. Through the media and technology platforms, people are better able to make connections with the content they love as well as with one another.

This rings true for the content that Ávalos has brought to life via Netflix, as well. While tasked with overseeing the expansion of Spanish-language content on the streaming platform, Ávalos believes that programs can transcend language and cultural barriers if the content resonates with people as a whole. And it is technology such as the Netflix platform that offers people from all walks of life access to content in other languages that they may otherwise never see.

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