The NATPE Miami That Could Have Been

The NATPE Miami That Could Have Been

On Jan. 8, NATPE cancelled its Jan. 18-20 Miami in-person conference, due to skyrocketing Omicron cases. No online event was put in its place.

The show, however, has gone on.

Some sales companies have made the trip to Miami anyway. Many others, who had already shifted Miami business meetings online, will still make those calls. Spanish language entertainment business publication Produ has launched a NATPE Showcase, bowed by an Inter Medya’s presentation of Turkish novela Aziz, a 1930s-set family drama. On Monday, Globo released details of its slate of new telenovelas, led by “In Your Place,” direct by email to targeted buyers.

Over June 18-20, Variety will publish three E-Show Dailies capturing breaking news from the international TV business. Following 10 takes, based on some foreknowledge of announcements, and companies’ current sales slates of what might have been at least some trends and global TV strategies highlighted by NATPE Miami:

Latin America: A New Streaming Market Star

Much NATPE news might have turned, for instance, around Latin America. As Europe’s OTT subscription take-up begins to mature, Latin America has been hailed as the second fastest-growing streaming market in the world, with a 13% annual growth rate, compared to Europe’s 9%, over 2020-25 according to a 2021/2022 Beyond Borders report by Brazil’s Ebanx.

“Latin America is a priority market for studios since is it is still a growing market with huge potential,” said María Rua Aguete, at OMDIA. “While the U.S is a very mature market where the average number of video streaming services is seven, in Latin America that number is still around three services per home, hence all the studios want to make sure they can capture that market,” she added.

Univision Fires Up the Spanish-Language Market

So multiple companies are making moves. Univision was due to host a Tuesday Jan. 18 morning breakfast session where it would no doubt have walked attendees through its plans to launch a double-tier premium SVOD/AVOD global streaming service which it billed on its announcement last June as “home to the largest offering of originally produced Spanish-language content” in the world. Following on its merger of contents and media assets with Televisa, the move is galvanising Spanish-language production, rival U.S. streaming service Pantaya announcing two new productions in just the past few days: “Montecristo,” starring William Levy, and “La Rebelión,” with “A Fantastic Women’s” Daniel Vega.

Latin America Production Trends

Trends in Latin American production suddenly become more relevant than in the past. Biopic series are stronger than ever, says Caroline Servy, citing titles on Gloria Trevi, Vicente Fernández, Pancho Villa, boxer Oscar Bonavena aka Ringo, and Miguel Bosé, as well as series based on real events /characters such as Disney’s “Santa Evita” and “El grito de las mariposas” and “Sueños de oro” on Caracol TV. There’s also a big push, she observes, into musical series by Disney Plus (“El club de los Graves,” “FreeKs,” “Champeta, el Ritmo de la Tierra,” “Ginayei,””Siempre Fui Yo”) and soccer-themed scripted projects from various broadcasters and platforms (WarnerMedia’s “Las Bravas,” “Coppola, el Representante” and “Los protectores” for Star, “Goles en Contra” on Netflix).

Co-Production Go Organic

“There are more and more opportunities for co-production. Rather than the earlier financial solutions for bigger productions, the industry is now searching for high-end productions which are organically international,” says Françoise Guyonnet, Studiocanal executive managing director of TV series, who was due to talk at a NATPE Miami panel on the transformation of international co-productions. She cites hit “War of the Worlds,” a British IP reimagined in contemporary U.K. and France by the Studiocanal co-owned London-based Urban Myth Films, and partnering France’s Canal Plus, Fox Networks Group Europe & Africa and AGC Television.

One Challenge: The U.S. Market

Not that that makes co-producing any easier with U.S. companies. In fact, setting up projects prior to production with U.S. “platforms and and networks has become much more difficult in the last year or so,” says Christian Vesper, Fremantle president of global drama. “What has not become more difficult is eventually selling those projects to those partners,” he adds, citing the case of Sicily-set viral contagion skein “Anna,” which sold to AMC for the U.S. and to Disney Plus for key European markets.

An Age of New Uncertainty

In recent years, industry lore was that projects had to be “really packaged in as big a possible way especially on bigger projects in order to get the big commissions from the big commissioners in the U.S. and even in the U.K.” says Vesper. Yet almost all of the commissions recently landed by Fremantle producers in the U.K. have been with brand new young writers. In other territories, however, “our talents are hitting it out of the park with really big talent-driven, director -driven projects,” he adds.

Fremantle’s solution is to service all the market, which is “both mainstream and and prestige,” says Vesper. Talking to clients they thought they’d be meeting in Miami, other weighty European companies will be making similar offers.

Another Name of the Game: IP

Over the weekend, Showtime released a first teaser trailer for “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” part inspired by Nicolas Roeg’s 1976 cult classic film starring David Bowie and co-produced by Tandem Productions, owned by Studiocanal. As is the increasing case with so many companies, Studiocanal’s ambitious 2022 slate is dominated by titles which play off IP: A Josephine Baker bio, a rebooted “Django” and adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s “Anasi Boys.” Making series, “we aren’t automatically looking to tick a ‘based on IP’ box but aim to produce European stories that reach international or global audiences: That’s much easier with IP,” says Guyonnet. Many executives would share that sentiment.

Back to the Future

Global platforms in some territories are attaining the audience reach of broadcast networks. So it’s entirely logical that they also indulging broader audiences tastes. One sign, as companies prepare to pitch platforms in Latin America, is the smash hit success of recent Netflix telenovelas.

Women Still Fighting Back

Pantaya’s “La Rebelión,” features four wives who, absolutely disillusioned by their home lives and marriages, suddenly up and leave. That’s just one example of one powerful narrative trend in international fiction, dubbed “women against domination” by The Wit’s Virginia Mouseler at a Mipcom Fresh TV Fiction presentation last October. It shows no signs of subsiding. “There are more and more lead roles for ‘diverse’ women and women who don’t need men at all at work or at home,” says The Wit’s Bertrand Villegas, observing many recent British examples, such as BBC One’s “Rules of the Game.”

The Best of Latam

They used to come to shop. Now they also come to sell. What can Latin America offer at its best? A Variety 2020 Top International TV Show, Lucia Puenzo’s “La Jauria,” had “huge creative ambition but also delivered on thrills and addictiveness.” Adapting Bernardo Esquinca crime novels, “Toda la Sangre” is “big, vivid and shocking, but has ideas Mexico and Mexico City beneath the surface,” says Vesper. “All of our producers in Latin America are doing commercial projects, but would never do something that doesn’t have some bigger ideas. It’s just who they are. That’s such a sweet spot.”


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