Spain’s Movistar Series Adds ‘Allegiance,’ ‘Manhattan’

Telefonica VOD system lifts off as another sales outlet for U.S. drama

MADRID – Underscoring Spanish telco Telefonica’s ever greater involvement in the content business, Movistar Series, the startup VOD service of Movistar TV, Telefonica’s TV division, has acquired exclusive rights in Spain to U.S. skeins “Allegiance” and “Manhattan.”

Buys add to other purchases confirming Movistar Series as a new Spanish outlet for top-tier long-form fiction, on both an exclusive and non-exclusive basis.

A long-form espionage thriller, now a series order from NBC, “Allegiance” stars Gavin Stenhouse as an idealistic CIA operative who discovers his parents are former Russian spies now re-activated by the Kremlin to plan a terrorist attack in the U.S. Co-starring Scott Cohen (“Necessary Roughness,” “Gia”) and Hope Davis (“The Newsroom,” “In Treatment”), it adapts the original Israeli series, ”The Gordin Cell,” also the subject of Korran andRissia makeovers. Universal Television, Keshet Media and Yes! produce.

Renewed by WGN America for a second season, with a second window on Hulu Plus, “Manhattan” is already the subject of other international VOD startup deals, such as a purchase from Canadian broadcaster Bell Media for its fledgling SVOD service. Set in the ‘40s, features John Benjamin Hickey (“The Big C”) in a lauded turn as a professor brought in to help lead the Manhattan Project to construct an atomic bomb. Lionsgate Television (“Mad Men,” “Orange Is the New Black”), Skydance (“Grace and Frankie“) and Tribune Studios are its producers.

Launched Dec.10. Spain’s Movistar Series reps one early instance of a drive into content at Spain’s Telefonica, one of Europe’s biggest telcos, as it seeks to deploy its fiber network in Spain and anticipate telco competition from Vodafone, which has acquired Spain’s ONO, and a potential VOD faceoff with Netflix, if the U.S. streaming service ever launches in Spain. Rolling content into the mix, Telefonica is also attempting to sweeten the pill of an already cut-price – by past Spanish standards – triple or quad-play service and leverage its muscle to co-produce and distribute across multiple territories premium content for which there is a large demand but which only a few deep-pocketed Spanish-world players can afford.

In a milestone deal this May, Telefonica acquired Canal Plus España, Spain’s biggest pay-box in a deal valued at some $1.4 billion. Via production arm Telefonica Studios, Telefonica has also begun to co-produce filmed entertainment in Spain and Argentina, such as, most recently, Damian Szifron’s Cannes Competition player and Argentine blockbuster “Wild Tales,” Alejandro Amenabar’s upcoming “Regression” and historical TV drama “Isabel.”

“Allegiance” and “Manhattan” join an already large roster of series, bought under various arrangements, including Showtime’s infidelity drama “The Affair,” which bows on Movistar Series on Jan. 3, AMC “Breaking Bad” spin-off “Better Call Saul,” which launches Feb. 9, and ABC’s “American Crime,” (March 6).

A totally VOD service, Movistar Series offers complete series – cop drama “Boss,” “Weeds,” the modern classic “Lost” – exclusive series – Starz’s historical fantasy “Outlander,” currently rating as Movistar TV’s most-watched series, Amazon TV’s cult drama “Transparent” Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful” and CBS drama “Madam Secretary” – and all seasons to date of key skeins such as “Mad Men,” “Downton Abbey,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and ABC’s Kerry Washington-starrer “Scandal.”

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