For decades, local fiction dominated free-to-air primetime over much of Europe. Many big U.S. water cooler titles like “The Sopranos” and “The Wire” made the running on pay TV.
That old order is now more challenged than ever as Movistar Plus, Spain’s leading pay TV operator, underscored on Tuesday, announcing the top 5 series across its pay TV and SVOD platform in Spain in 2020. All shows are Spanish and Movistar Plus originals.
Topping the list is Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s “Antidisturbios” (Riot Police), which was a big hit with critics and audiences at September’s San Sebastian Festival. The series also proved the most addictive hit on Movistar Plus with almost nine out of 10 viewers finishing the title. It’s now tracking to become the most watched Movistar Plus original series ever.
Elsewhere, Movistar Plus’ first series out of the gate after COVID-19 clampdown, and moved forward to an April bow, Mariano Barroso’s “La Linea Invisible” (The Invisible Line) came in second place, proving Movistar Plus’ most-watched series of the year during its first week out.
In the third spot is “La Unidad” (The Unit), a globe-hopping action thriller turning on Spain’s National Police counter-terrorist unit, which set a new record as the most watched-bow of any Movistar Plus content in history when released in January.
Rounding out Movistar Plus’ Top 5 were season 2 of “The Pier” from “Money Heist” creators Alex Pina and Esther Martínez Lobato, an exploration of female sexual liberty; and the third and final season of Berto Romero’s parenthood comedy “Look What You’ve Done.”
“People are now watching television more than ever,” said Movistar Plus president Sergio Oslé. When it comes to series, that’s “a combination of foreign fiction that can work very well but often uses different distribution methods to the past, such as Netflix and Disney Plus, and local fiction.”
The latter, however, now often plays local pay TV or new distribution services, he added, citing “Veneno,” a bio of Spanish trans icon Cristia Ortiz which first bowed on Atresmedia’s SVOD service Atresplayer.
“Riot Police” turns on a high-achieving female internal affairs officer investigating a bungled eviction put through by the close-knit members of a special intervention unit in Spain. She gradually links the tragic incident to high-level corruption.
Inevitably polemical, “The Invisible Line” charts the factors that push Txabi Etxebarrieta, a talented poet and very young leader of ETA, to commit its first assassination, in 1968. Neither titles are exactly feel-good, escapist popcorn fare, which may be exactly the point, Oslé argued.
The Top 5 highlights the large market position that Movistar Plus has carved out for itself in Spain for “high quality, mature fiction, that feels very local but hasn’t been seen before, at least in this market, and that a lot of people who are looking for content really like,” he said. “I strongly believe that that is where we have an edge.”