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Grupo Secuoya Announces Plans for Madrid Content City

CANCUN, Mexico — Raul Berdones, president of Spain’s Grupo Secuoya, Netflix’s exclusive production services partner at its European Production Hub in Madrid, plans to create a Madrid Content City.

The plan would build – literally – on Grupo Secuoya’s 22,000 square-meter Ciudad de la Tele, the site of Netflix’s European Production Hub, but expand to a final 140,000 square meters, Berdones announced Wednesday on the first day of MipCancun.

Secouya hopes to have Madrid Content City up-and-running by the second semester of 2020, with 15 sound-stages in operation, plus multiple backup facilities.

La Ciudad de la Tele currently has three soundstages and two more on the way. The ultimate gameplan would be to create “Europe’s Silicon Valley” and biggest production center, attracting both national film-TV players and international pay TV and global SVOD players, Berdones added.

To be announced in far fuller detail in upcoming months, the plans look highly ambitious. They do play, however, off an exponential hike in drama series production in the Spanish-speaking world, with much more to come.

“The quality of free-to-air primetime TV was very high,” said Berdones, citing “La Casa de Papel” (“Money Heist”), Netflix’s most-watched non-English-language series. Its success “has turned the focus on Spanish series made in Spain,” and helped persuade Netflix to set up its European Production Hub in Madrid, he added.

Berdones also quoted a PwC study that prime fiction production in Spanish-speaking markets would grow 3.7 times in the next three years to an annual investment of €1.4 million ($1.7 billion) just in primetime fiction.

The growth in production volume is broadly in line with the aim of Netflix to raise the number of non-English-language originals, currently at 30-35 launches this year, to 100 in two years time.

Madrid Content City’s plans take in a university for primetime TV technicians. If companies do not launch such initiatives, demand will outrun the supply of talent available, Berdones said.

Mexico used to produce four-to-six series a year, said Epigmenio Ibarra, president of Argos Comunicación, producer of Telemundo’s Intl. Emmy nominated Super Series “El señor de los cielos,” and Netflix’s “Ingobernable,” with Kate del Castillo.

That number has now risen to 45, Ibarra added. Argos used to produce three series a year. It now produces 8-11. Its acting school used to have 25 students. It now has 750.

“The second language in the entertainment industry, after English, is Spanish,” Ibarra argued. “The production of contents in Spanish is going to grow exponentially in the next years, more than it’s growing now.”

“Either we change the way we produce or it just won’t make sense,” Berdones added. Just as free-to-air TV changed its production methods in 2008, digital platforms have to put through a total new change in ways of producing.”

Ibarra and Berdones talked at a MipCancun panel, “Mexico and Spain, Creativity and Production Efficacy Explored,” where Ibarra steeled a Spanish-language audiences about fundamental pivots in the business.

“You have to learn to speak English, Hollywoodeese and Netflixian,” he quipped. The last includes, he said more seriously, a mix of industry, entertainment and technology, a deep-rooted quality, and a change from a plot-driven narrative common in Latin America, to character-driven narrative.

Bowing Wednesday with a world premiere screening of Inter Medya’s “Bitter Lands,” MipCancun runs Nov. 14-16.

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