TF1 buys Spain’s ‘Countdown’

Cop series stars Dani Martin

MADRID — Leading French commercial broadcaster TF1 has taken free-to-air TV rights on Spanish cop series “Cuenta atras” (Countdown), sold by Madrid-based Imagina Intl. Sales.

NBC U’s French thematic channel 13ieme Rue also inked with Imagina to broadcast the series before TF1 via digital operator CanalSat.

“Countdown” is a flashback cop drama starring Dani Martin, the lead singer of  successful Spanish pop group El Canto del Loco. Martin plays Corso, the head of a judicial police unit.

Broadcast in Spanish primetime from May 8 by Sogecable’s startup web Cuatro, “Countdown” averaged a 11.8% share, significantly surpassing Cuatro’s average 7.4% share for the 2006/07 season.

The sale to France marks IIS’s biggest licensing milestone after it launched in January as the international distribution arm of Imagina Media Audiovisual.

Created by Spain’s most successful drama series producer, the Arbol Group, and sport rights owner and production giant Mediapro, Imagina Media is a controlling shareholder in another new Spanish broadcaster, La Sexta.

IIS’s hottest product is TV drama. It is opening new markets for Spanish TV fiction such as Eastern Europe, where ISS has closed Russian rights on “Fame” style drama “One Step Forward” with CTC Network.

ISS is increasing sales on its back-catalog product in Latin America. The latest deals: Mexico’s free-to-air channel Canal 28 has taken rights on cop spoof “Paco’s Men” and family drama “The Serranos,” while Venezuela’s Teves has picked up reporters drama “Journalists” and “Step Forward.”

Sold to 20 countries, “Step” has been reupped by France’s M6 for a second run. The format of inner-city barrio comedy “Aida” has been sold to Greece and Turkey.

“International interest in Spanish TV fiction began three-to-four years ago. ‘Step Forward’ was a pioneer. Other series have followed, thanks in part to the fact that their storylines and genres are being made as international in style as they can be,” explained Pepe Huertas, IIS’s general manager.

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