The Global Ascent of Spanish TV Content

The Global Ascent of Spanish TV Content

Increased distribution through SVOD platforms coupled with strategic co-productions puts Spanish TV fiction on the international map.

-          By Aida Martirosyan, MD Haymillian

Recent years have seen an increase in the production of native Spanish drama with many of the major SVOD platforms now offering several titles to their audiences across the world. Of all the Spanish titles I’ve seen thus far, my personal favourite which I stumbled upon on Netflix, is the action comedy “Heroes Wanted” (Cuerpo de élite), it’s just so much fun to watch!

Spain’s popularity couldn’t be ignored at the recent MIPTV 2018 which premiered some of the country’s latest formats: Movistar+’s “Felix” was part of the festival’s official selection, while “If I Were You”, produced by the Spanish public broadcaster – RTVE, for its recently launched transmedia platform Playz, was featured in the digital series section. By the time MIPTV closed, several deals had made the headlines proving that Spanish titles are well on their way to reaping further international success. Notably, on the drama front, Starz snapped up the international scripted series “La Zona” out of Spain. And, in what Variety called the biggest production news of the market: “The Wire’s” David Simon and Spain’s Mediapro announced they are in co-development on a new Simon series project, “A Dry Run,” about Abraham Lincoln Battalion members fighting fascism in the Spanish Civil War.

Released at the end of April 2018 by the Audiovisual Observatory, the “TV Fiction Production in the European Union” report, provides great statistical details and how the EU is now producing on average 11,000 hours of “home-grown” TV fiction per year, representing on average 920 different titles. It doesn’t come as a surprise that Spain is ranked as the second biggest producer of TV fiction after Germany. The Germans produce 2156 hours of TV fiction a year, while Spain produces 1509 hours. Next in line are Portugal, Britain and France.

On the cinema front, data compiled by the company comScore, and published by the ICAA earlier this year, announced that box-office takings by Spanish films outside of Spain during 2017 grossed almost 20% more in 2017 than they did in 2016. The report stated that overseas sales of Spanish movies in 2017 grossed €96,709,469 - an increase of more than €15 million compared to the previous year.

All these statistics reinforce what we at Haymillian said in a previous article this time last year: that the trend for European, notably non-English speaking dramas, continues to accelerate year on year with producers of original scripted content finding success both locally and internationally. Spain is no exception to this growth spurt - it already boasts a large domestic market with some local productions making primetime TV slots. As we witnessed at MIPTV and have read in the headlines, the country is now making its mark globally thanks to the additional distribution opportunities offered by streaming platforms.

Compared with Turkey, the second largest TV exporter in the world after the US, Spain is still a new kid on the block when it comes to the production of local content specifically made to appeal to a larger international audience. The incredible levels of success that Spanish titles have received in the last year or two, especially in Europe and Latin America, has us wondering if Spain will find itself repeating the success story that Turkey has experienced for many years now… Only time will tell whether the country will succeed in reaching a peak position on the global ranks emerging as a hitmaker for years to come or if its success is a short-term trend that will fade as fast as it began. In our opinion, it will largely depend on the scale of authenticity, creativity and originality of what is being produced, and on whether scriptwriters can create strong and appealing characters that resonate with audiences outside of Spain, becoming easily identifiable to viewers in other regions. The fact that certain EU regions such as Germany and France for example, were able to create their success stories can be a huge encouragement for Spain and other countries to invest in high quality and worthwhile productions. If they do it well, there’s no doubt that this will result in them licensing their content in regions traditionally not under their cultural influence.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on the progress of Spanish productions but whatever happens, one thing is for sure - the rise of regional foreign language content is solid proof that audiences are tired of the same old predictable storylines typically produced by mainstream studios. Today’s multi-cultural (and often multi-lingual) viewers are hungry for original storylines and authentic content, regardless of its country of origin or language. Take one look at Amazon, iflix or Netflix and you will see the abundance of foreign language films that are available, either dubbed or subtitled, a sure sign that viewer demand is indeed there.

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