Spain’s TV market saw 82 new fiction series commissions over September 2022 to August 2023, 61% of them aimed at exclusive online release, compared to 52% the year before, according to TV research firm The Wit.
A few years ago, online was an afterthought. Now, to various degrees and in different ways, it is replacing linear as operators’ major concern. “Linear operators are refocusing their productions with the perspective of reaching a younger audience,” says the Wit’s Caroline Servy.
The clout of platforms within the industry has progressed very quickly. Atresplayer, the platform run by leading broadcaster Atresmedia, has increasingly become an energetic driver behind the local TV production sector since its 2013 launch. Public broadcaster RTVE is venturing into co-production as it has committed to provide exclusive and original content to its RTVE Play platform.
On Aug. 1, Movistar Plus, Telefónica’s pay TV/VOD operator, bowed a new souped-up version of its basic tier as a streaming service.
Meanwhile, Catalonia’s CCMA public broadcasting corporation is merging its brands TV3 and Catalunya Radio into the 3CAT umbrella, aimed at maintaining its linear leadership but accessing new audiences.
As other major international broadcasters have done, Atresmedia has made a large bet on its VOD content offer, evolving from a linear mindset, with Peacock in the U.S., RTL+ in Germany and ITV-X in the United Kingdom some of its references. “Fiction is an integral part of Atresmedia, so the fact that it was fundamental on our platform was nothing more than an extension of our own identity,” says Atresmedia content director José Antonio Antón.
Atresplayer has just launched exclusive dramas such as “The Nights of Tefía” and “Entre Tierras” and plans a Nov. 19 release of miniseries “Camilo Superstar,” which premiered at the San Sebastian Festival. “For a few seasons now, Atresplayer has been a very ambitious actor, with productions that provided good results on the platform, without often moving to the linear channel,” Servy says.
“This Is Not Sweden,” co-produced by RTVE and TV3 with Sweden’s SVT, Germany’s NDR and Finland’s YLE, marks the first high-profile original fiction for a direct release via RTVE Play. “Our idea is to give continuity to this kind of fiction, having at least one primetime-budget series every year at RTVE Play,” says José Pastor, RTVE head of film and fiction.
Co-production activity started for RTVE in 2020 with “Inés of My Soul,” a partnership with Boomerang TV, and Promocine and Chilevisión in Chile. Since then, co-production has become its preferred business model. As linear operators gradually evolve towards online, they are multiplying their commitment to co-production.
In Catalonia, rapid TV market evolution and the October launch of 3CAT will deepen the model’s changes, already going for a while. “Now we aren’t going to be the only partner, but we will continue to be the connectors of the Catalan industry with international players,” says Pío Vernis, 3CAT’s audiovisual business director.
“3CAT will broadcast its content in the Catalan language, which makes it compatible with sharing rights with the Spanish-language operators,” says Teresa Guitart, 3CAT’s head of foreign projection and sales.
One of TV3’s standout productions, romantic comedy series “Dating in Barcelona,” a co-production with Filmax in collaboration with Prime Video Iberia, will be accessible in the Catalan language on 3CAT, and via Prime Video in Spanish.
Sold by Onza, Carles Porta’s true-crime series “Crimes,” shared in Spain with Movistar Plus, is preparing a fourth season for next year, with an increasing international interest.
“As our focus is on Catalonia, in co-production projects we can share rights without an extreme need to lead international management,” Vernis says.