“There’s an old Chinese curse: ‘May you live through interesting times.’ The sector is now going through very interesting times indeed,” Fremantle’s Manuel Marti reflected to Variety as Madrid’s 2nd Iberseries & Platino Industria, a TV-film forum, wound down on Friday, running Sept. 27-30.
Three large table talk topics were the fall out from the planned merger of HBO Max and Discover+ by Warner Bros. Discovery – with the removal of more than three dozen titles on HBO Max in August alone – Netflix’s reconfiguration of its business model and galloping inflation in Europe, threatening streamer subs, They also played out, if sometimes indirectly, at the Iberseries & Platino Industria panels.
Overall, the bigger picture was of a still vibrant but now challenged TV industry in Spain, Latin America and Portugal.
Iberseries’ mood was still upbeat, however. “Creators are enjoying freedoms, Americans are reading subtitles, the only stories which work come from a vital need to tell them, which aligns with the market, connecting with primitive human emotions and universal moral questions,” said The Mediapro Studio’s Daniel Burman, whose “Iosi, the Regretful Spy” was a Berlinale Series standout.
Spain and Latin America, moreover, are semi-proofed against swinging cuts. Four of Netflix’s top 10 non-English series over Sept. 19-25 were Latin American, led by the Caracol TV’s “El Rey.” Seven of Netflix’s most-watched Non-English Top 10 movies and Top 10 series since the streamer’s inception were produced by Spain.
Challenges also bread opportunities. So, between business deals, one Iberseries conversation driver was how to move forward in a far more cross-grained world. Following, 14 takes on a still dynamic market.
The New Nightmare: Inflation
“The past two years have not been good, because of COVID-19 and war in Ukraine,” said Martí. In the U.S., according to a Recurly report in March, as a result of current costs of goods and services, 31% of those surveyed said they planned to cancel some subscription services in 2022. “Now spiralling energy costs in Europe will take their toll on all industries. The only good thing for film and TV is that home entertainment is one of the last things many people will cut,” said Marti. The threat, – especially in Russian gas dependent countries such as Germany, Italy and France – is definitely there.
Co-Production and Embracing a New Old Normal
It was no coincidence that the biggest deal announced at Iberseries, on its very eve, was a framework production alliance between Spain’s Secuoya Studios and Colombia’s Caracol TV. It goes with the market flow, with even platforms embracing ever more co-production, multiple producers reported. Slowing subscriptions have “in some ways democratised the landscape,” said Marti. “Platforms now are eager to go into co-production, realising that they have more content with the same money. Maybe our old windowing business model was good. It can still be feasible and viable,” he added. Platforms are proving flexible. On films, Prime Video can activate a three-week theatrical window, said Amazon Studios’ Leonardo Zimbron. A cinema theater release is costly, however, only apt for some titles, he added. “Opening up to co-production is a more democratic content model,” said Zeta’s Xavier Toll, at a Creativity or Business? panel “It allows you to be more of a producer, propose and look for more, with a broad set of options to generate content. The model we’re moving towards will give us a lot of happiness and is sustainable.”
Far More Selective Buying
“We’ve come from a tremendous boom with the launch of platforms where there was an enormous necessity for new content to present the platforms to first subscribers,” said Ezequiel Olzanski at EO Media, one of the producers on Iberseries buzz title “Ringo” as well as “El Presidente” Season 1. As over the last few years, film production took multiple hits in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Spain, a young generation of cineastes piled into drama series, making sometimes vibrant titles. All five shows in Iberseries & Platino Industria’s Capítulo Uno showcase of market premieres were directed by former filmmakers, led by “Official Competition” helmers Marcelo Cohn and Gaston Duprat, with second chance drama “Limbo” and “El Encargado. Cohn and Duprat signed a 20-production deal with Disney+ and Star+ in December 2021. With such deals locked, “naturally the wave is waning. There will be a much greater selectivity,” said Olzanski. “We believe it’s vital to construct projects which are valuable in an era of larger cherry-picking before going to platforms, in terms of talent, stories, language and market appeal, paying special attention to platforms’ needs and goals,” he added.
HBO Max in Latin America
“If I had to give an example of HBO Max, truth to say I don’t have a better one than ‘House of the Dragon,’” said Marcelo Tamburri, at HBO Max Latin America, teasing a quickfire upcoming production showreel on Thursday, including a first glimpse of anguished procedural “The Bronze Garden,” Season 3. “House of the Dragon” is “an excellent melodrama with a big-budget, focusing on the quality of the story, compelling characters, a cinematographic style and complete development,” he added, noting that HBO Max will look for “few projects” and avoid niche shows. “We’re looking to be broad.” That raises a question: If HBO Max goes even broader in international, how will competitors react?
Netflix: One Take on the New Model
Can Netflix stay the course with its new AVOD/SVOD model? According to Maria Rua Aguete, senior research director at Omdia, speaking at Iberseries, online video advertising will generate three times more revenues than SVOD in 2027. “It’s not surprising that all the major SVOD services including Netflix want to take part in that growth,” she said. In the next five years, online advertising revenues will almost double from $190 billion in 2022 to $362 billion in 2027; SVOD will grow from $86 billion to $118 billion. In the U.S., Netflix will generate just under a quarter of its revenue from advertising by 2027, Rua Aguete forecast. Omdia estimates that by 2027 nearly 60% of global Netflix subscribers will be on the ad-supported tier.
A Drive into English
EO Media is boarding ever more more projects beyond its territory of origin, Latin America, and organically in other languages, including English, Olzanski said. It’s not alone. The Mediapro Studio is advancing on portfolio of U..S and U.K. projects, led by a production alliance with Erik Barmack and John Tuturro’s adaptation of “Is There No Place on Earth For Me? “We’ve grown up with the Hollywood star system and a series in English still has far more of a chance of being global,” said Olzanski. The biggest project at Iberseries’ Co-Production Forum was “Barcelona,” now the tale of a NCIS agent who flies to Barcelona to coordinate security with local law enforcement agencies. “This is a step forward in our growth strategy, an organically multilingual, universal story with talent of this caliber,” El Estudio CEO, Diego Suarez Chialvo told Variety as Stephen Kronish and Jon Cassar boarded the project.
More deals, apart from Caracol-Secuoya and “Barcelona,” announced by Variety:
*Buendía Estudios unveiled a TV series adaptation of Antonio Gala’s erotic novel, “La pasión turca,” set to air on Atresplayer Premium and a series makeover of novel “El Angel Perdido” (“The Lost Angel”) by Javier Serra, which will slot into its co-development and production deal with Universal International Studios, signed in March.
*Spanish hit ‘Dias mejores’ was renewed for Season 2 by Prime Video, VIS and Zeta Studios.
* “Money Heist” star Alvaro Morte will headline “Talkies,” from “Luis Miguel” producer Gato Grande, helmed by “Money Heist” director Alex Rodrigo.
* Candle Media’s Exile Content Studio has joined forces with Trojan Horse Media, behind Emmy-nominated Netflix doc “Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado,” to produce premium content.
*Spotify’s ”Case 63” creator Julio Rojas and Spain’s Goya-winning Belen Cuesta (“The Endless Trench”) are set to star in “La Torca del Diablo,” a sci fi thriller from Chile’s Canal 13 and Miguel Asensio’s Tiki Group.