Traditionally, Spanish broadcasters retained all rights, paying producers a percentage of the budget of their series, which prevented them from building catalogs of their own rights. Although at first, the arrival of SVOD platforms didn’t change their business relationship, the increasing demand for TV fiction and financial needs have forced an increased use of the co-production model.
“There is a lot of creativity and versatility in co-productions from Spain,” says Caroline Servy, managing director at The Wit.
Dipping its toe into the co-production arena in 2016 with “The Young Pope,” The Mediapro Studio, one of Europe’s super-indies, is expanding across Asia, Latin America and the U.S. markets, teaming with key broadcasters and platforms.
“Co-production has been the perfect model to hike the international reach of our productions. This way of working has become common among production companies, platforms and networks in recent years, and is in fact the model for most of The Mediapro Studio’s fiction productions,” says Marta Ezpeleta, head of international offices, distribution, co-productions and acquisitions for The Mediapro Studio.
TMS boasts a large number of ongoing co-productions with Latin America, where it big consolidated allies such as ViacomCBS International Studios, WarnerMedia, Disney Plus and Sony Pictures Television, with whom it produces content for both their own platforms and for third parties.
The Mediapro Studio is also moving in that direction in Europe, “where the key is to find attractive stories for audiences in all countries, but where we’ve had highly relevant experiences such as ‘The Young Pope’ and ‘The New Pope’ and where we continue to learn about the possibilities that the market offers,” Ezpeleta adds.
Right now TMS is in full production on Season 2 of “The Paradise”, a co-production with Finnish public broadcaster YLE, and is in development on projects with renowned British production companies.
Released on Jan. 16, action thriller series “Express,” created and showrun by Iván Escobar (“Vis a Vis”), marked Starzplay’s first Spanish-language original series, co-produced with The Mediapro Studio and Pantaya.
Buendía Estudios, the joint-venture created in 2020 by Atresmedia and Movistar Plus, is “highly interested in international co-productions, which allow projects to grow not just in financial terms but also in collaboration with local creative communities,” says Laura Miñarro, Buendía Estudios VP. The company is now launching operations in Latin America and the U.S.
Telefónica’s Movistar Plus is following the co-production path it started to plow in 2019 with “Hierro,” the paybox’s most watched TV series in Spain, a co-production with Spain’s Portocabo, Arte France and Atlantique Productions.
The success of “Hierro” encouraged Movistar Plus to up the ante. Last year it launched Alejandro Amenábar’s first TV fiction, ambitious adventure miniseries “La Fortuna,” partnering with AMC Studios and Spain’s MOD Pictures, and it is working with DLO Producciones and Telemundo International Studios on thriller TV drama “El inmortal.”
Galicia-based Portocabo has re-teamed with Movistar Plus on upcoming Javier Cámara-starrer thriller drama “Rapa.”
Probably one of the Spanish TV companies more convinced of the potential of co-production, Portocabo started to explore alliances with the Portuguese TV market with 2017 cop drama “Vidago Palace,” co-produced with Portugal’s Hopi.
TVG, Galicia public broadcaster, has become an essential fellow traveler for the Spain-Portugal co-production relationships, alongside Portugal’s pubcaster RTP. Cop drama “Auga Seca,” co-produced by Portocabo and SPI, was picked up by HBO Max. Handled internationally by Onza Distribution, project “Motel Valkirias,” is currently lensing, produced by Galicia-based CTV, TVG with Portugal’s SPI and RTP.
TVG and RTP, alongside Portuguese company Ukbar Filmes and Spain’s Forta, also form part of Amazon Exclusive project “Operación Marea Negra,” set up at Galicia’s Ficción Producciones.
An exciting era of co-production activity started for nationwide pubcaster RTVE in 2020 with “Inés del Alma Mía,” a period drama produced in partnership with Boomerang TV and ViacomCBS’s Chilean network Chilevisión that proved it was the right formula for more ambitious and financially viable TV dramas.
Co-productions allow the company “to obtain a higher quality and a more international product, which undoubtedly enriches our catalog, allowing better market opportunities in the territories we serve,” says María Jesús Pérez, RTVE’s international sales director.
RTVE is establishing partnerships with international players such as Amazon Prime Video, whose highlights take in Simon West’s upcoming adventure drama “Boundless,” toplining Rodrigo Santoro (“Westworld”) and Álvaro Morte (“Money Heist”), co-produced with Spain’s Mono Films and Kilima Media.
The pubcaster has also partnered with the BBC for miniseries “Crossfire” and has just launched a new Spanish-Portuguese co-production, thriller series “Sequía,” joining forces with RTP, paybox Orange, Atlantia Media and Coral Europa.
The appetite for co-production has also extended to further regional public broadcasters such as Balearic Islands’ IB3, Catalonia’s TV3 and Comunidad Valenciana’s A Punt, who are joining forces with OTT service Fillmin on TV series project “Sicilia sense morts.”