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Beta Film, Telefonica’s Movistar + Forge Multi-Year Distribution-Production Alliance

Beta Film, Movistar + Forge Distribution-Production
Credit: Movistar +

CANNES — Powering up an enhanced production-distribution axis in Europe, Movistar +, the pay TV unit of Telefonica, Europe’s second biggest telco, have closed a multi-year distribution-production alliance with Germany’s Beta Film, one of the continent’s biggest independent production-distribution companies.

Beta Film already distributed Movistar + series on a title-by-title basis. Made by Christian Gockel, Beta pre-Mip TV dinner, and Ismael Calleja, Movistar + head of production & business affairs, on Sunday night the new deal allows for far deeper collaboration.

Deal announcement came as, distributed by Beta Film, Leticia Dolera’s Movistar + Original Series “Perfect Life” world premiered on Sunday in Official Competition at Cannes. A further Movistar + title, also sold by Beta Film, Mariano Barroso’s “What the Future Holds,” will receive an international premiere screening at MipTV on Monday.

In essence, the new deal transforms a title-by-title distribution arrangement, where Beta Film’s involvement sometimes came on finished product, into a partnership which will play through all stages of the value change from early development.

The arrangement will give Beta Film exclusive international distribution rights to about six Movistar + series a year. These will mix shows of blockbuster potential with more challenging titles such as comedies. Movistar + and Beta will also look to finance, develop and co-produce at least one drama series a year.

Beta’s international rights on titles will exclude Spain and sometimes Latin America, where Movistar + has launched a Movistar Series channel carried by its Movistar TV Pay TV and Movistar Play OTT service, said Sergio Oslé, Movistar + president.

Selling “Grand Hotel” and “Velvet” worldwide – the original not the format – Beta Film already helped Spanish series break out internationally.

“We want to guarantee content coming from Spain which we have been distributing for many years and have been very successful,” Gockel told Variety.

Allowing its partners’ a “deep exchange” on Movistar +’s  development slate, the new deal will also help Movistar expand its brand outside of Spain,” he added.

“We’d like to ensure that many of our projects have an international partner from inception, so an international market, expertise and makeup from the get-go,” added Osle.

The deal rolls off sales on Movistar + series handled by Beta.  Launched by Beta Film at Mipcom, Movistar + Original “The Pier,” from “Money Heist’s” Álex Pina and Esther Martínez Lobato, has been snapped up by 70 territories so far. Just before MipTV , Beta Film closed deals with RAI (Italy), ORF (Austria), HBO for the Baltics, SBS (Australia), MBC (Middle East) and U-Next (Japan), among others.

In “hefty global sales,” “La Zona” was most recently picked up by Amazon Italy, Canal Plus France, VRT Benelux and throughout Eastern Europe by Canal Plus Poland and others, Yandex Russia/CIS, RTP Portugal.

“Undoubtedly Beta is a best-in-class European co-production & distribution player, so we feel very confident that they will help us to enlarge our Originals’ international partners network,” Calleja commented.

There’s a bigger picture, however. The arrangement catches Beta Film as it is moving ever more into production. It will also bring in third-party companies to produce with Movistar +, said Gockel.

Movistar ’s international model looks to optimize distribution via key distributors or co-production partners, chosen on a “best of breed” basis, said Oslé. Rather than pursuing global platform distribution, Movistar + will seek to distribute territory-by-territory, he added.

For Movistar +, Beta Film joins a burgeoning raft of production/distribution alliances. “We want  to develop a network of partners, which will allow us to cover the world,”

At Natpe, Movistar + and Miami-based Telemundo Intl. Studios unveiled a three-year, three-series production partnership. Movistar+  has begun to co-produce with Arte (“Hierro”) Studiocanal (“Instinto,” a MipTV International Premiere Screening;  “On Death Row.”)

At least one more partner will be revealed in the future. Of a release slate of 15 series a year, Movistar + may co-produce around eight titles, 100% financing the remainder.

It’s a mixed model which is rapidly gaining favor among the biggest players in the world as they seek to construct lineups which will please all of heir customers some of the time, and some of their family member customers all of the time.