Intl. TV Newswire: Bundesliga Returns, Canary Tax Breaks, Sky’s New Factual Boss

Borussia Dortmund's goalkeeper Roman Buerki (R)

In this week’s International TV Newswire, Variety looks at the return of the Bundesliga and what impact it could have on broadcasters, the Canary Islands offers world-best tax breaks for foreign shoots, Sky finds a new head of docs and factual in Arrow Media’s Poppy Dixon, SBS commissions Season 2 of “Australia in Colour” and Corona content floods the international marketplace.

Bundesliga Return Heaven-sent for Rightsholders

May 15 will see Germany’s Bundesliga soccer resume the 2019-20 season after a more than two-month suspension due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

With just over 80 games left to be played, German rightsholders will be thrilled to have live sports once again on offer. Pay operators Sky Deutschland, through its sports package, and streaming platform DAZN hold rights to the majority of the competition’s remaining games, while public broadcaster ZDF has rights the final Friday night matches, although Sky Deutschland announced that the weekend’s action will be made available for free on Sky News HD in the form of a highlights show on the 16-17.

While the importance of live sports for a platform such as DAZN is obvious, it mustn’t be understated the impact live sports has on Sky Deutschland’s bottom line. Of the three Sky broadcasters – Germany, Italy and the U.K. – German audiences have proved the most one-tracked in their viewing habits.

“German Sky is the most dependent on soccer in the sense that football subscriptions seem to be much more important than the rest,” François Godard of Enders Analysis told Variety.

Bundesliga CEO Christian Seifert told the New York Times that a season cancelation would amount to a loss of around €750 million euros ($815 million) in TV revenue and create and untenable situation for as many as a third of the clubs in Germany’s top three leagues.

German clubs are especially vulnerable to financial stress due to the league’s stringent ownership policies which often mean that clubs don’t have the massive cash reserves of those in other countries owned and backed by much larger organizations.

Canary Islands Breaks Records with 50% Tax Breaks for International Shoots

It looks like a new world record. On the evening of May 7, Canary Island Film, the archipelago’s film-TV agency, confirmed that tax rebates for Hollywood and other international shoots, as well as tax credits for Spanish titles, would remain 20 percentage points above mainland Spain rates. These were hiked substantially by royal decree on May 6.

That means Canary Island shoots now offer a 50% deduction off the first million euros of spend or investment, and 45% thereafter. Refunds are capped at €10 million ($10.9 million), as on the Spanish peninsula. Other territories have higher ceilings: France at €30 million ($32.7 million) per title, for instance. There’s no higher tax break rate, however, for Hollywood and other foreign shoots in the 2019 edition of the Olsberg SPI Global Incentives Index, the main sectorial guide. Producers from Burbank to Berlin will inevitably take note.

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Wrath of the Titans

Sky Hires Poppy Dixon as Head of Docs and Factual

Former Raw TV and Arrow Pictures executive Poppy Dixon has been hired by Sky as director of documentary and factual commissioning as the broadcaster prepares the launch of two new unscripted channels, Sky Documentaries and Sky Nature. The new channels were recently announced along with Sky History, a joint venture with A+E Networks, and will launch May 27. Dixon will commission original features and series for the new channels as well as already popular networks Sky Crime and Sky History. In addition to new original programming, Dixon will also oversee co-productions of titles for all of Sky’s factual networks.

SBS Commissions Second Season of “Australia in Colour”

Arrow Media’s “In Colour” brand has had a second season of “Australia in Colour” commissioned down under broadcaster SBS. The result of a partnership between Australian production company Stranger than Fiction and the U.K.’s Arrow Media, Season 1 was a smash hit in Australia, pulling in more than 1.8 million viewers. A window into a once black and white past, the series uses a unique colorization process to add new life to archival video documenting many aspects of Australian life through the 20th century. Season 2 was commissioned by Joseph Maxwell and John Godfrey at SBS and is produced by Stranger Than Fiction’s Jo-Anne McGowan. Off the Fence handles international distribution.

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Australia in Colour Arrow Media

Covid Content Floods International Markets

Riding the wave of interest in coronavirus content, Germany’s Autentic and U.K. companies Britbox and TVF International announced moves in factual and scripted Covid-19 programming.

Autentic is shopping its mobile phone-shot “Corona Diaries,” produced by Berlin Producers for German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. Using footage collected from around the world, the doc traces 30 days of the pandemic, and is available in 43, 52 or 90-minute formats.

North American platform BritBox has hopped on ITV’s limited series “Isolation Stories,” produced by Oscar nominated writer-producer Jeff Pope (“Philomena”). Sold internationally by ITVS, the series was filmed in accordance with lockdown regulations by actors and their families, lead remotely by several established directors.

TVF International announced a slew of sales for five Covid-19 documentaries. “Coronavirus: How the World is Changing” was picked up by Spain’s RTVE, Australia’s ABC and Denmark’s DR. Meanwhile the company has seen major market pickups on three films from ChannelNewsAsia: “The Silent Killer” sold to Bild Germany, Al Jazeera MENA, PBS U.S.A., Yes DBS Israel, HRT Croatia, OPF Austria, Enjoy Culture Taiwan, AMC Networks Iberia, Pro Plus Slovenia and LNK Lithuania; “Stronger: A Battle Against COVID-19” to YLE Finland, RTS Switzerland, ABC Australia, Al Arabiya Middle East, Enjoy Culture Taiwan, TVP Poland, Fox India and Alexander Street Press; and “Race Against the Pandemic” was licensed by Fox Channels Latin America and India, Al Hurra Middle East, Enjoy Culture Taiwan, TVP Poland and Alexander Street Press.

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Coronavirus TVF International