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Netflix Forges Multi-Picture Pact With Italy’s Mediaset

Netflix and Mediaset are forging an alliance in Italy under which they will jointly produce seven feature films, a move that marks the U.S. streaming giant’s biggest Italian content deal to date.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings will officially unveil the movie titles and specifics of the multi-year pact at an event in Rome next Tuesday. The deal was first reported by Bloomberg and confirmed to Variety by a source. There was no immediate comment from Netflix or from Mediaset, which was founded and is controlled by the family of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Mediaset Managing Director Piersilvio Berlusconi had said in July that he was in advanced talks regarding co-producing content with Netflix. As an example of the two companies’ rapport, he cited their unusual collaboration on promoting the third season of “Stranger Things” on Mediaset’s youth-oriented Italia Uno channel. Although the series is available exclusively on the streamer, Mediaset, which is Italy’s top commercial broadcaster, set the stage for the “Stranger Things” Season 3 bow by airing 1980s movies that the show referenced in the show, such as “The Breakfast Club,” “Gremlins,” and “The Goonies.”

Netflix’s deal with Mediaset in Italy comes as the generalist broadcaster is expanding its scope by moving its base to Amsterdam – where Netflix also has its European headquarters – to set up a pan-European media company called MediaForEurope. The new Mediaset outfit would operate in Italy, Spain and Germany in an effort to gain more scale to compete with big global players, like Netflix, that are disrupting the market.

Since Netflix entered the Italian market in 2015, it’s steadily gained ground in terms of subscriptions, which are expected to reach 2 million by the end of 2019, according to independent analyst Ovum. The streaming giant, which has been working with ITV-owned Cattleya on crime show “Suburra” and with several smaller players, recently announced a €200 million ($222 million) investment in Italian original productions over the next three years.

However, an Italian news report Thursday said that prosecutors in Milan have opened an investigation into alleged tax evasion by the streaming giant.

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