MADRID — Readying the biggest original scripted series slate of any incumbent telecom in Europe, Telefonica’s Movistar + has added a new comedy show to its line-up, “Mira lo que has hecho” as it sets out its game-plan to set apart its telephony and internet offer via an unprecedented push into TV.
Counting “Mira lo que has hecho,” created by Spanish comedian Berto Romero, Movistar +, the pay TV unit of Madrid-based Telefonica, is now in production on six officially announced series with another, comedy “Shame” in the can. Some 13 more are in development. Backed by an investment to the tune of €70 million ($79.8 million) for its first four original scripted series, it aims to release three series in 2017, kicking off with “Velvet” sequel “Velvet Collection” in September, and a further 11 next year.
In terms of exclusively broadcast original Spanish series, Movistar + is also throwing down the gauntlet to other telecoms such as aggressive market disruptor MasMovil and SVOD services operating in Spain including Netflix which has commissioned to date just one Spanish Netflix original series, “Las chicas del cable.”
Meanwhile, Luis Miguel Gilperez, president of Telefonica de España, owner of Movistar + parent Movistar, told Spanish media last week that the days when new Movistar clients could just buy internet and telephony were over. Going forward, packaged services from Movistar, sold under the Fusion multiplay brand, would contain the obligatory buy of a set-top box decoder and some kind of TV content, including weekly access to Movistar + Original Series.
Aiding access to TV, on July 9 Movistar + launched two new packaged services priced at highly competitive rates – and both including Movistar + Originals: Movistar Fusion#0 and Movistar Fusion Series.
Offering internet and two mobile lines, and a 4,500-title VOD library, Movistar Fusion#0 will also include Movistar entertainment channel #0 which will screen Movistar Original Series on a one-episode-a-week basis. It will costs €45 ($52.6) to €57 ($63.3), depending on whether clients opt for ADSL broadband or fiber optic cable.
Movistar Fusion Series takes in internet, two cell phone lines, an 8,000-title VOD library, linear channels Movistar Series and Movistar Series Extra, which will screen “Game of Thrones’” Season 7 and VOD access to whole seasons of all Movistar Original Series for binging from the release of episode one.
That binging facility will kick off with Movistar +’s third series, “Shame,” which airs from this November after October’s “The Zone.” Movistar Fusion Series comes in at €60 ($68.4) to €72 ($82.1) depending on internet speed.
Movistar + Original Series’ double distribution model in Spain acknowledges new consumer habits, Domingo Corral, Movistar + director of original fiction, declared Thursday while presenting “Mira lo que has hecho,” adding that video on demand consumption now accounts for over 80% of Movistar + series viewership.
Facing “really strong” competition from other telcos in Spain, Telefonica’s pay TV subscriber numbers peaked at 3.755 million in June last year, down to 3.615 million at the end of March, according to Maria Rua Aguete., IHS Markit research director, technology, media & telecom.
That dip has been put down by Telefonica management to price hikes in TV offers and migration of clients from satellite to broadband delivery.
Though it appointed Corral to lead the charge into content way back in 2014, Telefónica now “needs to restructure its convergent offer in Spain to make sure it attracts new TV subscribers, making TV services available to all the company’s fixed broadband customers,” Rua Aguete added.
“The decision to offer full series on-demand ahead of linear broadcast adds value to Movistar+’s higher tier, Movistar Fusion Series, essentially working as an upsell opportunity for lower-tier customers and a churn reducer for those paying more,” said IHS Markit analyst Fateha Begum.
The obligatory incorporation of TV into its bundled services suggests that Telefonica is aiming for multi-million audiences for at least some of its Movistar + Original Series. Others target more specific audiences.
A dandy, stand-up comic and occasional film actor, Romero rose to fame over the last decade as a co-presenter of late night show “Buenafuente,” which played free-to-air channel la Sexta. “Mira lo que has hecho” (literally, “Look What You’ve Done”) is a six half-hour sitcom, co-written and directed by Romero. It is billed as an “ironic, realistic and contemporary” take on a upscale couple – he’s a TV comedian, she’s an anesthetist – confronting parenthood for the first time.
Produced by Movistar + with the collaboration of Barcelona-base El Terrat, the series “reflects a reality with humor and without cliches,” Corral said.