Intl. TV Newswire: Netflix Rankings Abroad, BBC’s ‘Gavin and Stacey,’ Latest VIS, HBO Latin America Titles

Elite Season 2
Manuel Fernandez-Valdes

In this week’s International TV Newswire, Variety looks at what Netflix overseas rankings say about its business model, a BBC iPlayer smash hit, Viacom’s latest production as it swells Spanish-language scripted titles at Miami-based Viacom Intl. Studios, a Netflix Egyptian puppet show, and HBO Latin America’ first fantasy suspense series in Brazil:

Netflix: Rankings Suggest Early Successes of International Business Model

“Extremely proud of our originals around the world…proof that great stories can come from anywhere and be loved everywhere.” Netflix tweeted Dec. 30 as, for the first time, it unveiled its most-watched titles in major markets worldwide. With slow news-flow throughout the week, it remains its major talking point. There were surprises. How come “Dark” Season 2 didn’t make the Top 10 most-watched series in Germany? More to the point, however, the ranking offer the first chance ever, to test what has become Netflix’s main gambit as it seeks to grow ever more beyond the relatively mature and bitterly competitive U.S. market: That international series will catch fire in their home territories and also across the world. So far, if Netflix’s Top 10s are anything to go by, that’s most obviously happening in Spain, which saw three titles break out to rankings inclusion in other markets: “La Casa de Papel” (“Money Heist”) of course, the top series from any country in not just Spain but France and Germany, but also “Elite” and Netflix’s first original animated feature “Klaus.” Top 10s, moreover, don’t really give you a full picture in any way of what’s been a mental shift in the popular attractiveness and willingness of the audience to engage with non-English native series,” says Guy Bisson, at Ampere Analysis.

“We’ve had 100 years of the industry being driven by largely U.S. content that’s gone international. That’s changed significantly but it hasn’t changed overnight, and it’s not a change that top 10s would reflect.”

Comparing production volume to estimated subscriber penetration, an Ampere Analysis report last September suggested a number of markets look a little overweight, notably Denmark, India and several Latin American countries. “This is almost certainly due to the exportability of Nordic Noir globally and Spanish- language content to key markets like the U.S. as well as the longer-term potential Netflix must see in India,” the report read.

Little wonder too that Netflix launched last year its first European Production Hub not in Paris nor Rome but Madrid.

“Gavin and Stacey” Pull Decade-Best Christmas Audience for BBC iPlayer

James Corden and Ruth Jone’s “Gavin and Stacey” 2019 Christmas special snuck in just under the wire to break a non-scripted sweep of the U.K.’s top 10 most-watched TV programs of the past decade, drawing 17.1 million viewers. The BBC iPlayer special is a decade-later spin off of the popular sitcom which ran ’07-’10 and steadily grew in popularity, migrating up the BBC’s hierarchy of networks and becoming a key part of the broadcaster’s primetime lineup in 2009 before its final episode on New Year’s Day 2010. The 2019 special broadcast on Christmas Day and has seen the biggest first week for any episode for 16-34s ever, 4.4 million requests so far in total and 1.4 million 16-34s.

VIS, Zeta Studios Team on Spanish Dramedy

Rapidly consolidating as one of the leaders in Spanish-language scripted production, Viacom Intl. Studios (VIS) is teaming with  Spain’s Zeta Studios to co-develop a new drama series from “Cuerpo de Elite” writers Cristóbal Garrido and Adolfo Valor. A story of five strangers who meet at a defining moment in each of their lives, “El día menos pensando” – a Spanish phrase used to describe something that happens when least expected – is described by producers as a dramedy focused on human relationships which moves seamlessly between comedy and moments of deep emotion. Although co-produced with a Spanish company for a Spanish audience, VIS believes the series has all the elements necessary to be a hit on the global marketplace.

Beloved Egyptian Puppet Abla Fahita Gets Netflix Original Series

Netflix has announced its second Original Series out of Egypt, an as-yet unnamed puppet comedy featuring popular satirical character Abla Fahita. Local companies Okwrd Productions and ASAP Productions will produce with Amin El Masri serving as  executive producer. Set to release in 2020, the series will chronicle how Fahita handles the highs and lows of stardom and being pursued by law enforcement and fans alike after gaining notoriety across the Arab world. The character first appeared in 2010 online and on Egyptian TV, but the Netflix series will be the first time she has appeared in a scripted series.

HBO Latin America, o2 Filmes Link for “Os Esquecidos”

As SVOD platforms position fast as general entertainment services, HBO Latin America is diversifying fast, and teaming with top-of.their-class producers to do so. Following on Colombian action horror-thriller “Mil Colmillos” and its first historical series, “Santos Dumont,” a Brazilian period adventure tragedy, HBO Latin America will now go into production on its first Brazilian suspense-fantasy series. “Os Esquecidos” (literally, “The Forgotten”). Doing so, it will re-team with “City of God” producers o2 Filmes, with which it made 2019 alternative reality satire “Pico de Neblina.” Created by Fábio Mendonça and Antônio Tibau, the 10-part series turns on a group of young friends who loose their way on a footpath in the Sierra del Mar, only to discover a hamlet, nit fund on any map, shrouded in eternal mist. “Os Esquecidos” rolls in February on location in the state of Sao Paulo, rapidly emerging as Brazil’s major big shoot and production hub.