Home Entertainment Spain’s Second Wave of Original Content Takes the International Stage at MipTV

Spain’s Second Wave of Original Content Takes the International Stage at MipTV

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Spain’s film and TV industries are in their second wave as standout content providers for global streamers. Some of the country’s most intriguing titles will take the international stage this weekend at MipTV in Cannes.

Built on a foundation of hits such as “The Red Band Society,” “Grand Hotel,” “Velvet” and “Locked Up,” a new era of internationally renowned content creation in Spain kicked off in 2018 with Alex Pina’s blockbuster series “Money Heist,” picked up by Netflix.

Since then, Spain has enjoyed a place among the steadiest content suppliers for major players worldwide, taking advantage of its often character-driven dramas, high-quality creators and producers, and a language spoken by more than 600 million people around the globe.

Although the market is continuously evolving, local industry has adapted to different new business models, entering bigger and more ambitious productions, often via co-production. Spanish fiction’s global popularity continues to grow to accommodate audience appetites.

Here are eight observations about Spain’s robust and increasingly popular industry.

Recent Greatest Hits

Last year, the Spanish film and TV sector continued to flourish internationally. Local titles ranked No. 1 on the Netflix global non-English Top 10 charts for 13 weeks -only bettered by South Korea.

Produced by Vancouver Media, “Berlin,” a “Money Heist” sequel, reached Netflix’s non-English top 10 for 85 days. Seasons 1, 2 and 3 of “Wrong side of the Tracks,” a Mediaset and Alea Media series, occupied the platform’s charts in March, accumulating 41.6 million hours viewed.

Launched Feb. 29, the Dopamine-Focus series “Red Queen” debuted at no. 1 on Amazon Prime Video in more than 20 countries, including Spain.

The three most-watched Spanish titles on Prime – Pokeepsie’s feature ” My Fault,” Federation Spain’s “Awareness,” and Mod Producciones series “Los Farad” – have received an average of 80% of their views outside Spain.

Since its release, “My Fault” has become Prime Video’s biggest non-English language launch, ranking among the Top Ten most-watched titles in over 190 countries, including the U.S., U.K., Australia, India, Argentina, and France.

Launched Mar. 15, The Mediapro Studio’s thriller series “Iron Reign,” created by “Below Zero’s” Lluís Quílez and toplining Eduard Fernández, Jaime Lorente and Chino Darín, debuted in Netflix’s top 10 in 72 countries.  

“‘Iron Reign’ represents very well the extraordinary level of production in Spain. It explains why Spanish fiction is so appreciated: the creative talent, the quality of the production, the excellence of the cast and the strength of the locations [lensing took place largely outside the Port of Barcelona],” says Marta Ezpeleta, The Mediapro Studio’s head of distribution, co-production & international Offices.

“The international success of Spanish or Spanish-language series hasn’t stopped growing. Their quality, alongside the international impact of global releases on platforms, contributed to consolidating this success, making our productions enormously appreciated worldwide,” she says.

Highlighting once again the Spanish film and TV industry’s connection with audiences worldwide, as of Mar. 24, J.A. Bayona’s Oscar-nominated “Society of the Snow” leads a four-Spanish talent-linked titles pack as the second most popular non-English title, based on views in its first 91 days via Netflix.

At the same ranking, “Society,” with 96.9 million views, is followed by Albert Pintó’s Anna Castillo-starrer “Nowhere” (85,7 million), Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s horror film “The Platform” (82,8 million) and Nostromo-produced “Through My Window” (61.1 million). The four Spanish titles are only surpassed in the list by Norway’s record-breaking movie “Trol” (103 million views).

“Of course, there is a reaffirmation of the international popularity of Spanish fiction,” agrees José Antonio Salso, head of acquisition and sales at Atresmedia TV.

Peak TV Is Not Over in Spain

Global streamers’ tightening purse strings don’t seem so evident in Spain, at least for Amazon Prime Video.

“Red Queen,” the adaptation of the first book in Juan Gómez-Jurado’s trilogy, marks “an ambitious, but different production. Local, with global projection,” says Prime head of Spanish Originals María José Rodríguez. “Risk is our formula to impact,” she adds.

Executive producer and showrunner Amaya Muruzábal’s “Red Queen” has been renewed for a second season after its successful debut, showing Prime’s commitment to growing in Spain.
Per a Barlovento report, Prime Video overtook Netflix in 2023 – reaching 19.7 million Spaniards – as the VOD platform with the most extensive penetration in the country (53%).

Prime plans some 10 to 12 productions this year, another sign of Spain’s rising profile as a top market for the streamer.

Originals Give Way to Co-Productions

Streamers are pulling back on 100% ownership of series, betting on more measured investment, increasing options of co-producing and sharing windows, and allowing producers access to IP.

“The originals’ production represents a high-risk business model for the streamers and little benefit for the producer,” thinks Jose Velasco, iZen Group president and producer via Zebra of Prime Video’s series “El Cid” and “Memento Mori.”

“There is a market rationalization effect, maximizing efficiency,” he says.

A consequence is that there are more multi-alliances encouraging windowing and IP co-ownership. Daniel Écija’s “The Other Life,” produced by Mediawan’s The Good Mood, sees national broadcaster RTVE team with Disney+.

Recently integrated at BBC Studios, Barcelona-based Brutal Media joined Sony Pictures Television to produce youth audiences-aimed soccer TV drama “La Academia,” launched on Prime Video and Catalan public platform 3Cat.

“A True Co-Production of Euro TV and Public Institutions”

Spain’s national public broadcaster RTVE recently established European co-production as one of its strategic master lines.

A key point for the Cannes Series player “This Is Not Sweden” came “when RTVE encouraged us to open up to international markets because its strategic lines included co-producing with Europe,” says Marta Baldó, producer at production house Funicular Films.

“In fact, it makes perfect sense in this series because the main family admires the Swedish family that lives across the street [in Barcelona],” she adds.

Festivals and markets proved to be essential for the series. “Programmer Cia Edström, head of TV drama vision at Göteborg, invited us to present the project. She found that few projects bridge northern and southern Europe in an organic way and through humor.”

“The importance and the key was that Aina Clotet herself presented ‘This is not Sweden’ at this important meeting with the Nordic industry. For the person who bets on content who is the creator, actress, director and co-producer of the series, it offers a lot of confidence.”

Seeing Aina Clotet’s talent, energy, and passion convinced the three commissioning editors in the room, who decided, after reading the Bible and the pilot, to join the project.

The three key people were Anna Croneman of SVT, Jarmo Lampela of Yle and Sabine Holtgreve of NDR. Later, Catalonia’s 3CAT also joined. Production support in Catalonia via ICEC and Creative Europe Media for development and production were also crucial.

“A true co-production of European television and public institutions,” stresses Baldó.

Paving the Way to Build Bridges

Following RTVE’s European co-production ambitions, the public operator joined forces with Portocabo, the Galicia-based outfit founded by Alfonso Blanco.

RTVE and Portocabo will soon start shooting the procedural “Weiss & García” in the Canary Islands. The show toplines Miguel Ángel Silvestre and Katia Fellin as a pair of researches from Spain and Germany, respectively, with different methods and characters. German companies Nadcon, ZDF and ZDF Studios have joined the project.

Founded in 2010, Portocabo is a pioneering company in Spain’s international co-production of series. It has determinedly sought to establish international alliances to promote more ambitious projects.

“Portocabo’s great feat was to demonstrate with ‘Hierro,’ a 2019 co-production with Movistar Plus+ in Spain and France’s Atlantique Productions and ARTE France, distributed by Banijay Rights, that this business model works,” Blanco explains.

Tending Alliances With the Latino World

“The production costs and budgets of Spanish-language series are tighter; they have proven production quality and often reach the Top 10 at much lower costs than many Anglo-Saxon productions,” comments Jose Velasco.

A Secuoya Studios presentation at Berlin drilled down on the strategies and ambitions of the producer of “Montecristo” and “Zorro.”

Set in 1837, California, “Zorro” was sold to Prime Video for North America and Latin America and shot in the economically beneficial Madrid and Canary Islands.

Also, Secuoya’s “Montecristo,” toplining and co-producing William Levy, was the No. 1 show on Spanish-language streamer ViX last year.

A large question is whether those recent examples could consolidate business models for further production companies in Spain and Latin America.

Traveling through the same territories, iZen Group teamed up last year with Non-Stop — Disney’s production arm in Latin America — to create and produce content in Spanish for the Latin American market with global ambitions.

More recently, Spaniard Amaya Muruzabal (“Red Queen,” “Hernán”) has partnered with Argentina’s Mariano Chihade (“Love After Music”) to launch M Content, aimed to produce Spanish-language series and films, some large-scale, as well as event auteur titles.

A Mixture of Genres

Set in the glamourous Marbella in the ’80s, at the height of the Barbella jet-set, “Eva & Nicole,” produced by Atresmedia TV in collaboration with The Good Mood, has been selected for MipTV as one of the most anticipated fictional TV series of the year.

Starring Belén Rueda and Hiba Abouk, “Eva & Nicole” was created by The Good Mood’s founder, Daniel Écija (“Red Eagle,” “La Valla,” “Estoy Vivo”). A legendary creator-writer-producer, Écija often combines different TV genres in its creations, marking younger TV fiction creators.

“This is a series in which you can fall in love, in which there is passion, action, thriller, and in which, at some moments, there is even a sense of humor. What I try to do in my series is to be like life: diverse, attractive and in some way surprising. Using a mixture of genres makes it possible to experience a wide range of emotions in a single episode. A series has to get as close as you can to life itself,” Écija explains.

Young-Adults Bet

Three TV projects produced by Atresmedia TV’s young-adults-oriented platform Atresplayer were presented at February’s Berlinale.

Two titles, Zeta Studios’ “Red Flags” and Morena Films’ “Zorras,” star young casts and are aimed at similarly-aged audiences.

The third, Álvaro Carmona’s Series Mania player “Déjate ver,” is an auteur dramedy touching on issues such as loneliness and identity, but from a comic point of view.

“Young adults are the audience most familiar with audiovisual content from other countries in a more simple and organic way, which makes it more demanding,” says Atresmedia TV’s head of acquisitions and sales, José Antonio Salso.

“It is an audience very accustomed to consumption on social networks and digital platforms. Our strategy goes hand in hand, offering our content on these same platforms. And this option is also available for our international clients who want to connect with this digital native audience.”