×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Spain’s TV Production Boom Sends Ripples Through Industry

Never has Spanish TV drama production been so vibrant.

Over the past 12 months, “La Casa de Papel” (“Money Heist”) and “Elite” became global sensations via Netflix, building on the success of previous series (“Grand Hotel,” “Velvet”) that demonstrated a never-seen-before appetite for Spanish originals.

Netflix is opening the doors of its first European production hub in Madrid in early April and preparing five new Spanish Originals; Movistar + aims to produce 15 series a year; HBO and Amazon are increasing production.

Meanwhile, top free-to-air TV broadcasters Mediaset España and Atresmedia are re-inventing themselves as studios, producing content for third-party operators, and taking advantage of their production expertise.

The boom is opening up more ambitious and flexible business production models, such as co-production.

“Many of our projects, from inception, have co-production partners,” says Telefonica’s Movistar + president, Sergio Oslé. “It keeps us international from the get-go and helps us distribute, and also reach some scale and share know-how.”

Movistar + has strengthened its position in Latin America and Europe via a co-production alliance with Telemundo Intl. Studios.

“It’s very much easier to close co-production deals today than even two years ago,” says Portocabo founder Alfonso Blanco.

Entering into international high-end TV drama from 2014, Mediapro has co-produced HBO’s “The Young Pope” and “The New Pope”; partnered with DirecTV Latin America on “Todo por el juego”; is shooting Mediterranean noir “The Paradise” with Finnish broadcaster YLE; and is teaming with Sweden’s Dramacorp on “The Head.”

Mediapro “teams on titles with predominantly international partners from the get-go, seeking to co-produce when possible and retain part of IP or initiating its own original productions,” says co-founder and partner Tatxo Benet.

In March, the company launched the Mediapro Studio, overseen by Javier Méndez as chief content officer, and revealed it had 34 scripted series in production, fruits of its frenetic policy of strategic alliances with players such as Televisa, Viacom Intl. Studios, Disney, Turner and Vice.

Just how Spanish producers are rolling off the boom varies. “The Department of Time’s” Onza Entertainment is co-producing “Hernán. The Man” with Mexico’s Dopamine Studios, a big-budget Spanish-language TV drama with Óscar Jaenada as conquistador Hernán Cortés.

“There’s an extremely competitive environment, we need to be continuously generating content,” says Sonia Martínez, Atresmedia head of fiction and editorial director at Atresmedia Studios.

Atresmedia has inked with Netflix, giving the streamer preferential access to many series.

In its first year of operations, the Atresmedia Studios has snagged deals to produce Amazon original “La templanza”; teamed with Alex Pina and Esther Martínez Lobato’s Vancouver for Movistar + thriller “El embarcadero”; and co-produced “Pequeñas coincidencias” with Onza and Amazon.

Mediaset España, Spain’s top-rated broadcast network, will introduce Mediterráneo Audiovisual to the international market at MipTV, integrating its sales, acquisition and production activities.

The new operation includes companies such as Alea Media, producer of “Vivir sin permiso” and “Patria,” and Mandarina, behind comedy series “Dangerous Moms.”

“The market is changing, and we are more open to linking to potential partners, bringing to the table our companies’ know-how,” says Ghislain Barrois, Mediterráneo Audiovisual CEO.

“Dangerous Moms” and cop thriller “Costa del Sol squad,” a Mediaset España co-production with Warner Bros. Intl. TV and Netflix, have both been selected to play at MipDrama Buyers’ Summit.

Bambú, partially owned by Studiocanal, is making originals for Netflix (“Alta Mar”), Movistar + (“En el corredor de la muerte”) and providing TV dramas for Atresmedia channels (“45 Revoluciones”).

Much growth is indeed being driven by SVOD players. According to a PwC study, Spain produced 38 scripted series in 2015, 58 in 2018. Originals by Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Movistar + and HBO represented 31% of total series last year. That percentage looks likely to grow.

Netflix is almost doubling — from six to 11 — the number of originals and that includes projects by “The Red Band Society” executive producer Pau Freixas, teaming with Filmax, and “Crime Times” film director Nacho Vigalondo.

After “Patria,” its first original in Spain, currently in production at Alea, HBO España is broadening its output with new fiction by Spanish filmmakers Alex de la Iglesia (“30 Coins”) and Isabel Coixet (“Foody Love”).

“La Templanza” marks Amazon Prime Video’s first Original Series in Spain. It is based on a novel by María Dueñas, author of “The Time in Between,” whose 2013 TV adaptation was a hit for Atresmedia.

One key aspect of the co-production model is the talent mix. “Hernán,” for example, combines actors and crew from both markets, with Mexico’s Julián de Tavira and Spain’s Curro Royo as co-showrunners.

Talent is now at a premium. Netflix tied down “La Casa de Papel” co-creator Alex Pina to produce new series beyond “La Casa,” such as “Sky Rojo” and “White Lines.”

Mediapro is also inking exclusive key talent deals for a creative team, which already includes Iván Escobar (“Vis a vis”), Javier Olivares (“The Department of Time”), Fernando González Molina (“The Boat”) and Diego San José (“Spanish Affair”).

Some local producers fear a boom-to-bust scenario. Few appear to be slashing production levels, however.

More TV

  • Writers vs Agents Packaging War WGA

    Agencies' Antitrust Suit Against Writers Guild Set for January Hearing

    The antitrust suit filed by Hollywood’s major agencies against the Writers Guild of America has been set for a Jan. 17 hearing. U.S. District Court Judge Andre Birotte issued the calendar update this week on the litigation, filed on Sept. 27 by CAA, UTA and WME after the agencies consolidated their individual agency suits. The [...]

  • Gabrielle Carteris SAG Awards

    Gabrielle Carteris Preps for 26th Annual SAG Awards

    SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris is already looking forward to the 26th SAG Awards on Jan. 19, held in its usual location at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. “One of the best things about the SAG Awards is that it’s a peer-to-peer recognition,” she says. “It’s the highest honor for performers to be recognized by [...]

  • GoliathSeason 3CR: Greg Lewis/Amazon Studios

    'Goliath’ Renewed for Fourth and Final Season at Amazon

    Amazon has renewed gritty legal drama “Goliath” for a fourth and final season. The series centers on washed-up lawyer Billy McBride, played by Billy Bob Thornton, who seeks redemption after a client he successfully defended from a murder charge went on to slaughter a family. Thornton won a Golden Globe for his performance in 2017. [...]

  • Jon Favreau'The Mandalorian' TV show premiere,

    Jon Favreau Already Has a Star Picked for His 'Star Wars' Holiday Special

    The “Star Wars” franchise is no stranger to the strange and odd. But the wildest of all the offerings from the galaxy far, far away is the bizarre (but beautiful) “Star Wars Holiday Special.” And Jon Favreau is ready to resurrect it. The TV special celebrating the Wookiee holiday “Light Day” aired on CBS in [...]

  • Justin Marks FX

    'The Jungle Book' Writer Justin Marks Inks Overall Deal With FX Productions

    “Counterpart” creator and showrunner and “The Jungle Book” scribe Justin Marks has signed an overall deal to create new content for FX Productions. “Justin is a true creative talent and we feel fortunate to be his partners in supporting his vision of bold and ambitious storytelling,” said FX Entertainment original programming president Gina Balian. Marks, [...]

  • Tye Sheridan

    Tye Sheridan Starring in Survival Thriller 'Wireless' From Steven Soderbergh for Quibi

    Quibi has ordered another show with notable Hollywood talent attached: scripted series “Wireless” starring Tye Sheridan with Steven Soderbergh on board as executive producer. In the made-for-mobile-screens thriller, a smartphone has a central role. Sheridan (“Ready Player One,” “X-Men: Apocalypse”) plays a self-obsessed college student who is stranded in the Colorado mountains after he crashes [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content