CANNES – Aiming to build its international contents business, Telefe, Argentina’s biggest broadcast network, has sealed two strategic alliances – with Keshet International and Endemol Shine – that guarantee Telefe part of produced program’s IP outside Argentina.
The framework Telefe and Keshet accord commits partners to attempt to co-develop and co-finance two entertainment formats a year.
With Endemol Shine Argentina, Telefe will co-produce “El gran jugador” (literally: “Big Player”) for 2016, a 13-seg fiction TV series scheduled for 2016 broadcast. Story turns on a young engineer who participates in a Big Brother competition and, once in the house, announces live to the whole country that he has a bomb that he will detonate unless his sister, who has been unjustly arrested, is released.
With Keshet, Telefe is already co-developing “a big talent show” which may air second half 2016.
Deals signify a strategic change of direction at Telefe, the biggest broadcast network in Argentina. A big fish in a small-ish pond, it would like to move far more into international waters, making waves with their best operators.
“We’re locally a big production company, but we need to fit more into international molds,” said Tomas Yankelevich, Telefe’s director of global contents and international businesses. Yankeklevich used to oversee just domestic contents.
“Now that I’m in charge of the international business as well, instead of just thinking about productions for local screen, I think from the beginning about what can we do internationally speaking.”
He added: “We have our broadcast business up and running. We believe it’s going to keep on working for a long time. We know it’s the right time to grow our international production business.”
As Yankelevich outlined to Variety, on the Keshet deal both partners are bringing ideas to the table and will participate in shows’ development.
“We give them about ten ideas and they give us ten ideas and we decide on which ones we will work together. So they develop what are actually our original ideas and viceversa,” Yankelevich commented.
Keshet will handle world sales rights. Telefe will broadcast the Argentine version, Keshet the Israeli one.
“We’re convinced that strategic alliances like these build efficiency and convert these projects in big players in the global market,” Yankelevich said about “El gran jugador.”
Telefe has already adapted Endemol Shine IPs but, according to Martin Kweiler, CEO-creative director, Endemol Shine Latam, “this is the first time that the development of a series is based on such a successful format as ‘Big Brother.’”
“Tomas Yankelevich has a concept of international entertainment,” said Kelly Wright, Keshet Internationl head of sales. Keshet produced the original version of “Homeland,” “Prisoners of War” and talent show “Rising Star.”
With “El gran jugador,” Endemol Shine will distribute in territories where it has production offices and up-and-running Big Brother houses, Telefe in the rest of the world.
The Keshet Intl. and Endemol Shine arrangements gives Keshet and Endemol Shine the chance to use Telefe’s broadcasts as one acid test of a format’s popularity.
“We have one thing that most production companies don’t have and that is broadcast network,” said Yankelevich.
Strategic alliances also allow Telefe to leverage the distribution muscle of powerful partners while sharing in revenue streams worldwide, rather than just from Argentina, – the case when Telefe simply reversions an already-established foreign format.
Yankelevich exoplained: “Now, instead of doing it just ourselves and not having the expertise of the big companies, we decided to share a little bit of our IP in order to have a bigger show around the world.”
Telefe is in conversations with other alternative TV giants and studios to co-develop properties. “The idea is that by 2017 we will only air our own or co-owned shows.”
The 13-episode structure of “El gran jugador” is way below Telefe’s normal seg run of a minimum 60. But Telefe will be producing less-episode series if it finds the right partners, Yankelevich said.
Co-producing with Endemol also allows both partners to contribute to the cost of production. With so many dramas being put into production around the world, Telefe’s needs to stand out in the crowd.
“Remember that in Argentina, cable penetration is around 95% so most Argentineans are used to good quality worldwide television. So what we try to do is to have our projects but with the same quality [as high-end U.S.titles],” Yankelevich said.