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International TV Newswire: German Merger Details, Soccer Pirates, ‘Marsupilami’ in 3D

Marsupilami
Belvision

In this week’s International TV Newswire, new German studio to be formed by Tele MünchenGroup (TMG), Universum Film, i&u TV and Wiedemann & Berg Film share licensing division details; soccer leagues jointly condemn a Saudi pirate broadcaster; Franco-Belgian comic superstar “Marsupilami” gets a 3D reboot and Spain’s Atresmedia steps up its on demand game.

German Merger Details Licensing Strategy

Announced earlier this year, the new German studio merging giant Tele MünchenGroup (TMG), Universum Film, i&u TV and Wiedemann & Berg Film, announced management structures at its new licensing division on Friday.

The main takeaways: the unit will be headed by CEO Fred Kogel, who will handle acquisitions with previous head of international acquisitions at Universum Film Alexander Janssen. L.A.-based Eden Rock Media’s Thomas Augsberger, who has been advising TMG in its acquisitions of feature films as well as the development of films and series, will stay on as the company’s main U.S. contact for licensing and production.

Backed by New York equity form KKR, the studio’s catalog has more than 7,000 titles. It will be looking to buy and produce feature films and TV series aimed at a global market.

While the studio make a spectacular statement at Cannes, stepping up to the plate to buy AG Studios “Moonfall” for Germany, expect many of its new productions to be series.

“While movies are still important in the streaming space, it’s the scripted series sector that has significant legs going forward,” said Guy Bisson, at London-based consultancy Ampere Analysis.

He added: “It makes perfect sense to invest in this area because of the ongoing boom in international series production which is increasingly in demand in local languages.”

35 in 2014, the number of German fiction series released increased to 70 last year, according to Madrid’s Gabinete de Estudios de la Comunicación Audiovisual: (GECA). Established players are also driving Germany’s scripted boom.

German public broadcaster ZDF now ranks as one of the top 10 commissioners of scripted content in the world, with 44 scripted shows announced in development or production, according to Ampere Analysis. In Europe, only the BBC (71) has more.

Soccer Solidarity as Leagues Censure Saudi Streamer

Not pulling any punches, Fifa, supported by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Germany’s Bundesliga, Spain’s La Liga, The English Premier League and Italy’s Serie A, released a statement directed towards the Saudi Arabian government this week condemning unlicensed streaming service BeoutQ. According to evidence collected by the leagues, the pirate service was created in Saudi Arabia as part of a boycott targeting Qatar-based BeIN Media. The name alone is a bit of a giveaway. According to the group, it has been impossible to retain legal counsel in KSA that is willing to act on their behalf, and they must find alternative means to pursue BeoutQ, although they neglected to specify what those means may be.

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Belevision Gives “Marsupilami” the 3D Treatment

With a raft of comic appearances, two animated series – one on CBS in 1993 and the other in France in 2000 –a video game on the Sega Genesis system, Alain Chabat’s blockbuster movie in 2012,  and loads of nostalgic merchandise to its name, popular Franco-Belgian comic “Marsupilami” is getting a new 3D animated spinoff from Belgian studio Belvision, who will be pitching the series at September’s Cartoon Forum in Toulouse, France. The studio, recently involved on “Asterix and Obelix: Mansion of the Gods” and Ghibli-partnered “The Red Turtle,” is proposing a twist on the popular IP this time around; rather than one eponymous character, the series will feature 3 “marsupilamis” named Marsu, Pila and Mi.

Atresmedia Overhauls OTT Offering

In what is being seen in Spain as a response to Mediaset’s launch of the Mitele Plus on demand service, fellow broadcast and production company Atresmedia has updated and relaunched its own Atresplayer Premium, originally launched in 2018 but never promoted, aiming to improve the digital TV platform for its 75,000 current and any future subscribers. The service clocks in at €2.99 ($3.33) per month and offers ad-free access to catalog and original content. According to Atresmedia director of content Carlos Fernández, CBS Access-style, subscribers will receive access to Atresmedia content ahead of free-to-air transmissions on the company’s Antena 3 and La Sexta channels. As TV advertising slides in Spain, Ateesmedia cannot afford not to be seen to be exploring alternative revenue sources.