You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Spanish TV Producers Look to Formats to Boost Bottom Line

Since the mid-1990s, Spanish dramas have blown U.S. shows out of the water on local free-to-air primetime TV. Now Spaniards are plunging into an ever-building format export market.

As a finished product, Spanish TV dramas already boast solid international presence, with Boomerang’s epic drama “The Time in Between” and Diagonal’s historical fiction “Isabel.” Both sold to over 75 countries, and Bambu’s period skeins “Gran Hotel” and “Velvet” were acquired by key international buyers such as Hulu and Netflix.
A recent phenomenon, TV adaptation right sales, particularly to the U.S, suggests a qualitative leap in terms of ambition.

To date, three Spanish drama formats have seen English-language remakes Stateside. Aired in 2014 on CW, sci-fi romance “Star-Crossed” was adapted by CBS Studios from an original idea by Madrid’s Isla Producciones. Also in 2014, Fox remade Filmax’s dramedy “Red Band Society.” More successfully, “The Mysteries of Laura,” now in its second season at NBC, is a Boomerang drama produced by Warner Bros. in the U.S.

Televisa USA is teaming with Lantica Media to produce an English-language “Gran Hotel,” and Lionsgate is working on a U.S. redo of “Velvet.” Thriller “Personal Motives,” which ABC Studios and Ellen Pompeo are developing, adapts a 2005 Boomerang hit, aired by Mediaset Espana’s Telecinco. More recently, former Fox Television Studios chief Emiliano Calemzuk optioned redo rights to RTVE’s sci-fi series “The Ministry of Time,” per Gonzalo Sagardia at Onza Partners.

“Apart from the U.K., we are the country that best reaches local audiences with its TV dramas,” says Bambu co-founder Ramon Campos. “This has not gone unnoticed for the American TV market.”

Option rights give Spanish rights holders $8,000-$15,000 and $50,000 for a a pilot episode. But the biz really takes off if a season is greenlit and the original producers tap returns from a U.S. version, including possible international/syndication revenues. A 13-episode season broadcast by a network could generate $600,000 for Spanish producers.

“We’ve earned more with other TV adaptations but U.S. remakes obviously open other markets,” says Ivan Diaz, Filmax international head, whose long-awaited “I Know Who You Are,” produced with Mediaset Espana was selected for MipDrama Screenings.

In general, “international sales are already generating an interesting account, not just prestige as they did before,” says Sonia Martinez, head of fiction at broadcaster Atresmedia.

Reportedly, flagship skein “Isabel” took in north of $1 million in international revenues through 2015. Above all, however, it helped to open up many American SVOD platforms to RTVE dramas, says Rafael Bardem, RTVE deputy director, programs/products sales. Televisa’s SVOD service Blim has just taken exclusive Latin American OTT rights on RTVE’s “The Ministry of Time.”

Cultural affinities turn Latin America and the increasingly bilingual U.S. into preferential markets for Spanish dramas.
“El hotel de los secretos,” based on “Gran Hotel,” made a solid debut late January on Univision. Also, Mexico-based Rodrigo Ordonez, co-founder of production company Room Service, picked up Latin American redo rights to “The Ministry of Time.”

Spanish free-to-air broadcasters receive 70% of local TV fiction formats’ international sales and 30% go to indie TV producers says Cesar Benitez, co-founder of Plano a Plano, which made Atresmedia’s comedy “Down Below” and Mediaset Espana’s thriller “El Principe,” Spain’s top primetime shows.

“We need the Spanish market situation to count for increasingly less in our business,” says Juan Jose Diaz, Boomerang senior manager. “This means developing business in Latin America.”

Acquired last year by France’s giant Lagardere Active, Boomerang is developing two TV fiction projects in Chile, one a nonstop daily-soap for Mega.
Grupo Secuoya has operations in Colombia, Chile and Peru and launches free-to-air channel Ten this month in Spain. The plan is to adapt hit Spanish series and co-produce dramas, says Secuoya’s head of international Jose Miguel Barrera.

Spain’s TV dramas are moving from local comedies to more universal subjects: Mediapro’s Globomedia and Bambu, for instance, plan separate Galicia-based drug traffic skeins, respectively “Oeste” and “Farina,” latter for Atresmedia.

Atresmedia already teams with Globomedia on psychological thriller “Pulsaciones,” and, with Bambu, plumbs political corruption in “La Embajada”; Mediapro’s 100 Balas is prepping the political comedy “Vota Juan.”

“TV fiction has become the new manna,” says Javier Mendez, head of content at Mediapro, who’s teaming with HBO, Sky and Canal Plus on high-end series “The Young Pope,” starring Jude Law.

More TV

  • Tryion Lannister Game of Thrones Episode

    'Game of Thrones' Season 8 Episode 2 Leaks

    The second episode of “Game of Thrones'” final season has leaked online ahead of its Sunday night debut. Fear not, “Thrones” fans: though the internet is dark and full of spoilers, this post is free of any details from Season 8 episode 2. Rumblings of a leak began on the “Game of Thrones” Reddit and [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Signs of Solidarity and Strain Emerge as Week 2 of WGA-Talent Agency Standoff Begins

    Hundreds of WGA members rallied solidly behind their union last week as the industry grappled with uncertainties spurred by the sudden break between writers and their talent agency representatives. But as the standoff heads into its second week, signs of strain among some WGA members are beginning to emerge. Shalom Auslander, author and creator of [...]

  • Jon Snow Arya Stark Game of

    'Game of Thrones' Final Season Vegas Odds Reveal Wild Theories

    With “Game of Thrones” hype at an all-time high, Las Vegas may be raking in as much money as the Iron Bank. HBO’s fantasy masterpiece has seized the gambling world’s attention nearly as much as the Super Bowl or Kentucky Derby. Fans spew countless theories on social media, such as which characters will be axed [...]

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • Adam Lambert, of Queen, performs at

    Adam Lambert Back to 'Idol' to Mentor Finalists Through Queen's Catalog

    Adam Lambert famously launched his career on “American Idol” a decade ago performing a brilliant audition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” He wrapped that amazing eighth season performing with the band on the season finale, and years later earned his current spot as the front man touring as Queen + Adam Lambert. On April 28, Lambert comes full circle as he steps [...]

  • Lily Tomlin SAG Lifetime Acheivement Award

    TV News Roundup: Netflix's 'Laugh-In' 50th Anniversary Tribute Sets Premiere Date

    In today’s TV News roundup, Netflix sets the premiere date for its 50th anniversary special of “Laugh-In.” DATES “Laugh-In: The Stars Celebrate,” the 50th anniversary tribute to the original series by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, will premiere on Netflix on May 14. The special, which was taped at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, pays [...]

  • Texas Tech's Norense Odiase (32) shoots

    Live+3 Ratings for Week of April 8: NCAA Championship Game Dunks on Competition

    The final of the 2019 NCAA basketball tournament, in which Virginia triumphed over a spirited Texas Tech team, unsurprisingly finished way out in front in the Live+3 ratings for the week of April 8. Although the sports broadcast’s scripted competition made some gains, its 5.4 ratings still more than doubled that of “Grey’s Anatomy” in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content