In today’s International Newswire, Variety asks if high-end drama is the new content king in Europe; Nordic Film & TV Fund announce new round of top-up financing; Turner/Warner Bros. FilmStruck launches in France and Spain; NATPE Budapest International announces a participation hike – a sign of vitality of some regional markets.
Is Drama the New Soccer of Europe?
Are drama series the new soccer? And, of all countries, in soccer loco Spain? On Thursday, via a tweeted video, a man in a “La Casa de Papel” garb – Dali mask, lush Bordeaux red overalls, who turned out, once he took off the mask, to be Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, announced with Telefonica’s executive CEO José María Alvarez Pallete that Netflix would be made available to Telefonica’s Movistar + pay TV subscribers in Spain and Latin America.
More than daylight robbery, however, that’s a win-win play for both companies. This is a union between Netflix, whose market capitalization of $151.8 billion briefly passed Disney’s on Thursday, with Telefonica, a telecom which boasts 257 million mobile customers, most in the growth region of Latin America. There, Movistar + gives Netflix a network for streaming to customers; Movistar +’s mobile data usage can also help steer Netflix consumption, said Maria Rua Aguete, at IHS Markit.
Then there’s the timing: the deal comes as stylish Spanish heist thriller “La Casa de Papel” was confirmed by Netflix as it presented its first quarter results as the most-viewed foreign-language series ever on the streaming giant, highlighting the importance and popularity of Spanish drama right now. Movistar + is the biggest big telecom producer of drama series in Europe, bowing “Matar al Padre” its seventh fiction show since September – and first be a woman, Mar Coll – on May 25. In a first or second window, Telefonica shows could be fed into Netflix in the future.
The deal also comes as, after years of inflation in prices paid by operators in Spain, no buyer has been announced in Spain for next year’s Champions League games. Vodafone announced in February that it would not continue to broadcast soccer at current pricing. Telefonica execs have meanwhile been talking up the cost/return ratios of their original dramas series.
“In the past, sports was king: Whoever had the best sports rights was going to be a successful platform. In the last months, years, there is a gathering trend for drama to become increasingly more important,” Aguete said.
She added: “If by any chance Movistar + loses Champions League rights, they will still have the fantastic drama content from Netflix and their own productions.”
In France, Canal + and BeIN Sports may not offer enough to meet reserve prices at a Ligue 1 rights auction next Tuesday. Italy’s Serie A has yet to secure a buyer for next season, said a report released Thursday by Enders Analysis, “French, Spanish and Italian telcos won’t bankroll further football rights inflation.” In Spain, it’s inconceivable that Movistar + doesn’t carry Spain La Liga soccer games. That said, are drama series becoming the new soccer?
Nordic Film & TV Fond Announces Funding
The Nordic film-TV funder and promotion org has announced top-up financing for four new TV series, three films and two documentaries which will receive funding this April. In TV, “Summer of ’68,” about the ’68 protest movement in a small Swedish community, from Anagram Sweden and Swedish pubcaster SVT will receive $258,000; another mini-series, Southeast Asia-set “Tsunami,” from Filmlance International and SVT, $240,000; Moscow-set noirish drama thriller “The Conductor” from Black Spark Film & TV and C More/TV4 $363,000; and Season 2 of the woman-focused soccer-drama “Home Ground” from Motly and NRK gets $246,000. In film, the musical “A Piece of My Heart” from Unlimited stories will receive $289,000; legendary Finnish filmmaker Mika Kaurismäki’s “Master Cheng” $227,000; and “Valhalla” from Denmark’s Profile Pictures $332,000. And in docs, the Myanmar-based “Confessions from a Military Dictatorship” and Eva Mulvad’s “Family on the Run” will each receive $74,000.
FilmStruck Heads to France, Spain
VOD streaming service FilmStruck, from Turner International’s Digital Ventures division and Warner Bros’ Digital Networks, has announced plans to launch in France and Spain. The service focuses on classic films and features cast interviews, original artwork and behind the scenes videos and mini documentaries. In France the VOD service will feature content from
Euro giant Studiocanal, crossover mini-major MK2, RKO and heritage film leader Carlotta Films; in Spain from art-house/foreign-language distributors Wanda, Caramel and A Contracorriente Films. Pricing and launch dates have yet to be announced for the upcoming territories, although U.S. packages run from $6.99 per month up to $99 a year.
NATPE Budapest International Market Attendance Improves on 2017 Totals
In the lead-up to June’s NATPE Budapest International, JP Bommel, NATPE president & CEO, has announced that accredited buyers and acquisitions executives are already up on 2017. NATPE Connect, where buyers and sellers can set up meetings beforehand, has also experienced unprecedented numbers of pre-arranged connections, with still another four weeks still to go. Additionally, major international presenters will be screening content which just debuted at May’s L.A. Screenings. CBS, NBCUniversal, KOCCA, Warner Bros and Studiocanal are down to participate. NATPE Budapest Intl. runs June 25-28.