Netflix Launches in Spain With ‘Narcos,’ ‘Cuervos’

But VOD giant still has to build line-up of first-run Spanish originals

MADRID – Netflix launched today in Spain with a press conference offering glamour — Taylor Schilling from “Orange Is the New Black,” “Sense 8’s” Miguel Angel Silvestre and Daryl Hannah — as well as top brass CEO Reed Hastings and content head Ted Sarandos.

The company’s programming lineup in Spain, which may well be typical as it rolls out worldwide, includes flagship original series such as “Narcos,” “Marvel’s Daredevil,” “Sense 8,” “Club de Cuervos,” “Grace and Frankie,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and “Marco Polo.”

Upcoming movies include “Jadotville,” “The Ridiculous 6, with Adam Sandler, and Brad Pitt-starrer “War Machine.”

The streaming giant certainly bowed with large ambitions: Hastings said he hoped take-up to reach one-third of Spanish households in seven years. That’s over 6 million homes. Yomvi, the VOD TV-film service of Spain’s dominant pay TV operator, Telefonica’s Movistar Plus, reached 1 million subscribers last week.

Canal Plus and Movistar TV, now merged in Movistar Plus, is a multichannel operator with 3.6 million subscribers at year-end 2014. Premium series on the service include “Games of Thrones” and ironically one-year exclusive rights to “House of Cards” season 3 and “Orange is the New Black” season 2, plus all of Spain’s soccer league matches.

Netflix is offering a one-month free subscription, with six months free to Vodafone TV clients. Pricing in Spain is in line with France, Germany and Netherlands after a Eurozone price hike Aug. 17. Netflix’s two-stream HD plan is €9.90 ($10.90) per month; the basic one-stream at-a-time, standard-definition service costs €7.99 ($8.80); and its premium four-streams-at-a-time offer which features access to Ultra HD 4K, is €11.99  ($13.30).

Any potential Spanish subscribers hoping for a welter of Spanish first-run original series and movies from Netflix may, however, have to wait a while. Unlike in Italy, where Netflix has already confirmed one major Italian TV series — mob-themed “Suburra,” produced with Cattleya and RAI Cinema — Netflix made no original Spanish series or movie announcement at its launch.

That’s not to say it has not been loading up on Spanish content. One example: Netflix has licensed from Atresmedia, one of Spain’s two big broadcast groups, a batch of top on-air series and high-profile features. Some it also has in Latin America and the U.S. (“Velvet,” “Grand Hotel” and “The Time in Between”). Also in the deal are movies co-produced by Atresmedia Cine: “Three Many Weddings,” “Three Meters Above the Sky,” “I Want You,” “Ismael,” “Family United” and “The Last Days.” Netflix also has licensed “John Wick” and Jennifer Aniston’s “Cake” from Atresmedia, which will be a premiere release on Netflix in Spain. Netflix is now reportedly negotiating the pay TV/home entertainment window on new Spanish movies.

“We are definitely interested in Netflix Spanish-language original production in Spain in the not too distant future and not just for the Spanish market but for the world, like ‘Narcos, ‘Suburra’ and ‘Club de Cuervos’ are for the world,” said Joris Evers, Netflix communications head for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Beyond buying its content directly, for Spain’s industry at large, Netflix may offer two large pluses.

Its arrival may galvanize the value of the pay-TV window. “We typically do see in any of the markets that we enter a wave of activity or innovation by other players. We’ve seen this in the Netherlands, in France,” Evers recognized.

And it may hit piracy, maybe hard. Evers commented: “We believe that given legal options that are easy to use, provide contents of great quality and are affordable, people will chose rather than going the piracy route.”

Certainly, with Yomvi, and now Netflix, piracy is no longer the sexy leisure pursuit it was just five years ago in Spain.

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