International Newswire: BBC-AMC Crime Drama ‘McMafia’ Recruits Advocates in Britain

In today’s International Newswire, ‘McMafia’ woos British pundits, pay-TV lifts off in Spain, the U.K. music biz enjoys a revival, and Paris market Rendez-Vous readies for its bow.

McMafia,” BBC and AMC’s drama about organized crime, has bowed in Britain to applause from the critics, with comparisons being made to the Emmy-winning “The Night Manager,” and a few suggestions that the show’s star, James Norton, would make a fine James Bond.

Assessing the merits of the opening episode, which attracted more than 5.7 million viewers, the Guardian said the show is “beautifully put together, the script is a cut above average, and there is a sense of much more power and energy waiting to be unleashed.”

The Radio Times, which – despite its title – is the U.K.’s leading TV listings magazine, said that the description of “the ins and outs of international finance” can at times be “a little dry and dense,” but “it’s usually not too long before an act of brutal violence or a sunny international visit pops up to kick the story back into gear.”

The Telegraph said: “There’s enough grit in [Norton’s] acting, and intrigue in the plot, to guarantee my place on the sofa” for the subsequent episodes.

The U.K.’s best-selling tabloid The Sun said the show was “an eight-episode rehearsal for star James Norton to step into Daniel Craig’s 007 shoes.”

Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle, was far less keen on the show, initially. “Watching McMafia. Pretty appalling that all the villains so far are explicitly Jewish,” he tweeted, although he admitted he’d only watched 30 minutes of the show. He was later persuaded to watch the rest of the episode. “Glad I did – it’s promising…,” he tweeted.

PAY TV LIFTS IN SPAIN, FINALLY
Total 2017 TV figures for Spain are in. For the sixth-year running, Mediaset España’s Telecinco topped out the year as Spain’s most-watched free-to-air channel, with a 13.1% share.

Mediaset España and Atresmedia maintain their dual dominance of Spain’s TV ad market, their bouquets of channels taking a combined 85% slice of total investment.

But the big news cuts two ways, according to a Barlovento Comunicación study, released Tuesday. Kicking in from 2014, Spain’s TV ad market recovery is slowing, at least for the first nine months of the year, with investment over January-September 2017 coming in at €1.528 million ($1.711 billion), just 0.9% up on Spain’s €1.515 billion ($1.697 billion) for the same period, 2016. Second, once a laggard in Europe, Spain’s pay-TV market is finally lifting off, accounting for 22.3% of total viewership in 2017, vs. 20.4% a year earlier. Reason? The hike in fiber optic connections, used in 6.3 million of Spain’s 18.3 million TV homes by October. And the proliferation of new OTT offerings and initiatives, spearheaded by market leader Movistar +’s launch of its first original series, and the launch of Netflix, HBO and Amazon Prime Video in Spain, which now rates as a primarily internet TV country. Spain has 6.1 million pay-TV homes, 3.483 million of them IP TV households, according to the latest figures from Spain’s National Market and Competition Commission, its market and antitrust regulator.

BRITISH MUSIC BIZ SEES 9.5% ALBUM SALES RISE
The British music biz is enjoying a continuing revival with sales across all formats rising steeply.

A total of 135.1 million albums or their equivalent were either streamed, purchased on physical format, or downloaded over the past year, according to record labels’ association the BPI. This represented a 9.5% rise on 2016, and marks a third year of consecutive growth and the biggest rise so far this century.

U.K. acts accounted for eight of the top 10 best-selling artist albums last year, with Ed Sheeran leading the way with “Divide.”

The growth was driven by a 68.1 billion streams, which represented a 51.5% rise on 2016, and a 1,740% increase since 2012. Streaming accounts for more than half (50.4%) of all British music consumption.

The vinyl revival continues, with 4.1 million LPs purchased in 2017 – an annual rise of 26.8%, and up by 1,892% since their low point of just 205,000 copies sold in 2007. Vinyl LP sales are now at their highest level since the start of the 90s, with close to 40,000 albums released on vinyl in 2017. Almost one in 10 of all physical purchases are now on vinyl format.

Vinyl occupies a growing niche that accounts for 3% of the music consumed, while CDs repped 30.8%.

UNIFRANCE RENDEZ-VOUS: A GOING CONCERN at 20
As the industry increasingly questions the future of film markets, its first in 2018, the UniFrance Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, will celebrate its 20th edition in Paris with little sense of self-doubt. That comes with the territory. For all its soul searching, even not counting Luc Besson, France remains one of the few countries in Europe capable of producing, financing or selling independent movies which clock up more than $100 million at the worldwide box office. Gaumont’s “Leap!” is a case in point.

Paris is also a capital of exportable comedy. The Rendez-Vous’ lineup still has to be announced but judged from the comedies bowing in early 2018 in France, the 20th edition may be a particularly strong one. It is also, very obviously, the world’s biggest art-film hub. Juliette Binoche, star of Claire Denis’ “Let the Sun Shine In,” which has sold to 42 countries, will pick up this year’s UniFrance French Cinema Award.

Running Jan. 18-22, the Rendez-Vous kicks off with Jean Becker’s just post-WWI drama of conscience, “The Red Collar,” the kind of bigger plusher period piece that France also often does very well.

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