MipTV: Spain’s Boomerang Ups Chile Biz (EXCLUSIVE)

Spanish Lagardère production powerhouse looks to Europe and Latin America

Plastic Sea

CANNES – Spain’s Boomerang TV, part of France’s Lagardère Group and producer of “The Time In Between” and the Spanish original which sparked NBC’s “The Mysteries of Laura,” is following through on its strategic remit to expand its business in Latin America, developing two scripted series with Chilean networks.

Moving into fiction, BCL Producciones, Boomerang’s Chilean subsid, launched 2014, is in conversations with Mega, linking one of Spain’s most successful exporters of scripted and unscripted fare with Chile’s top-rating commercial network. BCL is also holding series development talks with an unspecified second channel. Both conversations turn in part on the idea of exporting the Spanish strategy of non-stop soaps, Juan Jose Díaz, Boomerang TV founder-senior manager told Variety.

The Mega series under early discussion would be urban, and middle-class, set in Santiago de Chile, he added.

“With the South American model of telenovelas, series may have 50, 100 or 200 episodes, but always a beginning and end,” Diaz said. Spanish daily soaps, in contrast, have no definitive ending, can renew season-upon-season: Launched 2011 and running to almost 1,300 episodes, Boomerang TV’s period daily soap “The Secret of Old Bridge” has just been re-upped by Atresmedia for further segs, for example.

“Non-stop soaps can be very interesting for channels: It’s a model we’d like to export to Latin America,” Diaz said.

In unscripted, Boomerang has already co-produced a local version of “Top Chef” for pubcaster TVN and remade Optemen format “Kitchen Nightmares,” for commercial channel Chilevision.

Driving to increase its critical mass in the European audiovisual production sector, which it views as its biggest potential growth driver, France’s Lagardère acquired an 82% controlling stake in Boomerang TV last May. The deal, a first step in European expansion, also served as recognition of one of Spain’s most successful TV production powerhouses, in and outside Spain.

In recent moves, Boomerang has shot a second season of “Plastic Sea,” a Mediterranean Noir “Fargo”-style mystery thriller set around Almeria’s massive greenhouse installation zones. Showcased by TheWit at October’s Mipcom, it averaged 3.75 million viewers, the second highest drama audience to date of the 2015-16 season.

Boomerang has reupped with pubcaster TVE on “Acacias 38,” a daily soap. Sold to about 60 countries, The Secret of Old Bridge’s” dubbed original punches better ratings in Italy, a daytime 27.7% share on Canale 5, than in Spain. “The Time in Between,” a period espionage thriller sometimes called Spain’s answer to “Downton Abbey,” has sold to 75 countries, including the U.S. (Drama Fever/Hulu) and Netflix, for the U.S. and Latin America.

Meanwhile, “The Mysteries of Laura,” a single mom dramedic procedural, has also been adapted for Russia (CTC), Italy (Mediaset) and the Netherlands (SBS 6). Boomerang is in conversations with companies in several further territories which would like to adapt the series, said a company source.

A Debra Messing vehicle, the U.S. version of “The Mysteries of Laura” is produced for NBC by Berlanti Prods. and Kapital Ent., in association with Warner Bros. Television.

Per Juan Jose Diaz, Boomerang’s Lagardere deal is a potential gamechanger, placing it on a privileged axis between Europe and Latin America.

“We have to maintain our position in Spain. But we want and need to expand, for Spain to weigh less heavily in our total business,” said Diaz. One direction is “development of Latin American business, consolidating our presence in Chile, and expanding again, in Colombia and Mexico,” he added. Wherever it goes in Latin America, it has to “bring something the country doesn’t yet have” such as the concept of non-stop series.

Equally, Boomerang must become a European international co-production player, Diaz added. As Netflix and HBO, which has announced it will launch later in 2016 in Spain as a standalone service, seek to retain rights to their own shows, Europe’s incumbent pay-TV players will need strong catalogue. “How can they get it? Producing, and for it to have sufficient quality a collection of countries must get together so that the budget’s high-enough to attain an American or British standard, which is what we’re all looking for.”

Some TV operators in Latin America – Televisa, TV Azteca – are also interested in this other kind of content, Diaz continued.

“Boomerang’s growth also entails becoming a co-producer of European product. There’s a clear axis – France, Spain, Italy, to a certain extent Germany – which hasn’t produced so many shows together but has a lot in common when it comes to making very specific projects.” Aiding this, in production levels, “We’re increasingly making a more homogenous product. You don’t notice differences in quality and other aspects,” Diaz concluded.