Vivendi’s Studiocanal Sells ‘Section Zero,’ ‘The Five,’ ‘Spotless’ to Spain’s Telefonica

Deal marks one of the biggest content pacts to date between Vivendi and Telefonica

In one of Vivendi’s biggest deals to date with Spain’s Telefonica, Vivendi-owned Studiocanal has licensed to Telefonica’s pay TV operator Movistar Plus a trio of TV series: “Section Zero,” “The Five” and “Spotless.” Movistar Plus has also renewed its licensing deal for “Pillars of the Earth.”

Deals take in pay TV and SVOD rights to Spain on some of the latest TV plays by Luc Besson’s EuropaCop, which co-produced “Section Zero” and U.S. novelist Harlan Coben, whose “The Five” is the first series he has originated for TV.

The four-series pact on a clutch of Studiocanal’s banner series over 2015-2016 also marks the latest trading between Vivendi and Telefonica, one of Europe’s biggest telcos, which boasted a turnover of €47.2 billion ($52.6 billion) in 2015. Telefonica also owns Spain’s biggest pay TV operation, Movistar Plus, with 3.7 million subscriber households at the end of 2015, and has launched pay TV operations over much of Latin America.

Vivendi has insistently mentioned Telefonica as a natural partner for joint growth in Southern Europe and beyond. That interest has still to bear fruit in an overriding corporate agreement. In the past, Movistar Plus has acquired flagship original series at Studiocanal parent Canal Plus such as the gritty cop drama “Braquo” and fantasy series “The Returned.” Announced Tuesday, the current deal looks like the biggest to date in terms of the number of series sold. It also plays off two contents strategies which Vivendi, Canal Plus and Studiocanal have ramped up over the last three-to-four years.

Set in a dystopic, futuristic metropolis ruled by a conniving multi-national corporation – a set-up which allows “Braquo” director Olivier Marchal to bring the full force of his noirish sensibilities into play – Canal Plus original series “Section Zero” is budgeted at €2 million ($2.2 million) per episode, per EuropaCorp’s Edouard de Vesinne, as Canal Plus attempts to scale up in the TV dramas it co-finances, bringing distinctive production values and talent to the table.

Both “The Five” and “Spotless” involve original commissions from major TV players – Sky and Canal Plus respectively – to production companies owned or co-owned by Studiocanal, which has built a network of TV production companies across Europe.

“The Five” is an original commission for Sky 1 by Nicola Shindler’s Manchester-based RED Production Company (“Happy Valley”), which Studiocanal bought in 2013. A Canal Plus Original Series, “Spotless” marks the first drama for Canal Plus from Germany’s Tandem Productions (“Crossing Lines”), Studiocanal’s first TV production company purchase, announced Jan. 2013.

Before the buy, Tandem teamed with Muse Ent. and Scott Free Productions to produce mini-series “The Pillars of the Earth,” which has aired in 160 countries.

A U.K.-set humor-laced drama starring a British (Brendan Coyle, “Downton Abbey”) and French (Denis Menochet, “Inglourious Basterds”) cast, “Spotless” has now sold to over 200 territories, Studiocanal said in a statement Tuesday.

The three new series “represent the current strength and originality of European productions and also boast great creative talent on both sides of the camera like Olivier Marchal, Harlan Coben, Brendan Coyle, and Denis Ménochet,” stated Miguel Salvat, head of premium content, Movistar Plus, Telefonica.

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