MADRID — Top-rating Spanish broadcast network Mediaset Espana has tapped Ghislain Barrois, CEO of its highly successful film production arm Telecinco Cinema, to head up Mediterraneo, ME’s newly integrated sales-production operation.
Ana Bustamante will serve as its managing director. Silvia Cotino will direct its sales and business development. Barrois will remain director of sales and acquisitions at Mediaset España and continue heading up Telecinco Cinema.
The new sales-acquisition-production company will be introduced to the international market at the upcoming MipTV market-co-production forum, which runs April. 8-11 in Cannes.
First sketched out in a presentation on Oct. 30, but now officially launched, Mediterraneo will seek to serve the exponentially-increasing demand for content in the Spanish-speaking world, driven by Netflix and Amazon, but with more streaming platforms in the offing.
Though part of a free-to-air broadcast network, Mediterraneo will offer content and initiate production conversations with OTT and pay TV platforms.
Part of Mediterraneo’s noteworthiness lies in what Mediaset España CEO Paolo Vasile called “the most varied forms of creativity” of the companies it will represent. These take in film production subsidiary Telecinco Cinema, producer of Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” and J.A. Bayona’s “The Impossible” and “A Monster Calls,” and, among affiliates, in which ME has 30%-40% stakes, Aitor Gabilondo’s Alea Media (“Patria,” “Madres”), multimedia producer Megamedia, sports content producer/post-production house SuperSport; non-scripted specialist La Fábrica de la Tele (30%), and Spanish “Survivors” producer Bulldog (30%).
Further Mediterraneo companies are scripted producers houses Mandarina (30%, “Señoras del (h)ampa”), Alma Producciones, and Melodía Producciones (“Los Nuestros,” “Secretos de Estado”). Offering opportunities for first or second TV window release, ME’s international channel CincoMas will also be housed under Mediterraneo.
The new company will seek to optimize costs and increase sales revenues in and outside Spain, tap formats and drive new digital and other TV initiatives, said Massimo Musolino, ME director general of management and operations.
ME already has dealings with streaming platforms. Alea Media is producing “Patria” with HBO Europe, not for any channel at Mediaset España. Strengthening an already-close relationship, Mediaset España and Amazon Prime Video have inked worldwide SVOD rights to cop/legal TV drama “Caronte,” a production by Big Bang Media, part of the Mediapro Group, for Mediaset España. Amazon Prime Video users will have access to every “Caronte” episode the day after it broadcast in Spain via Mediaset España channel Telecinco.
ME saw content sales of over €90 million ($103 million) over 2012-18, €55 million ($63 million) from movies, more than 60% of revenues from abroad, said Musolino.
Sales of fiction and programing averaged €4 million ($4.6 million) in revenues over 2012-15, but €8 million ($9.1 million) in 2018, “with growth prospects, and these revenues feed through directly to the bottom line,” he added.
Having acquired content for years, Mediaset España also has excellent contacts with companies such as Disney and Warner, whose global SVOD distribution operations will launch in Spain. That could facilitate production conversations.
The official launch of Mediterraneo comes as ME posted in 2018 full-year net profits of €200.3 million ($228.3 million), its best result since 2008, before Spain’s plunged into a double-dip recession over 2009-13.
ME stock has appreciated 30.7% in 2019. But gross revenues, still largely driven by TV advertising, were broadly flat for 2018 at €963.6 million ($1.1 billion): Mediaset España has to look to open up another broad front of business beyond TV advertising, building its future as not only a broadcast network but content powerhouse.