Europe must work to preserve its “cultural richness” and “diversity,” and Spanish audiovisual group Mediapro can play its part in those efforts with its global expansion plans, managing partner Jaume Roures said Thursday.
“The challenge for us is spreading our collective consciousness and how we promote our culture,” Roures said at a New Communication Forum in Madrid, where he presented his company’s 2018 financial results and global expansion plans across four key business areas. “We find ourselves lacking, above all at the European level, that the dissemination of contents around the world not rest in the hands of the Americans.”
He positioned the global activities and plans of his company — which has offices in 58 countries on four continents and a reported turnover of almost 2 billion Euros ($2.26 billion) last year, 79 percent of which came from its international activities — as part of a “need” on the European level to compete in the production and distribution of content “to avoid that our historical references, our consciousness, our culture in general be absorbed, overwhelmed by foreign ones.”
Mediapro, which turns 25 next month, rebranded its content division in March under the banner ‘The Mediapro Studio,’ with an eye to investing 200 million Euros ($225 million) producing and distributing content across Europe, Latin American, the U.S. and the Middle East.
The company unveiled The Studio less than three weeks before Netflix inaugurated its production hub in Madrid. Roures called The Studio “a qualitative jump in how we make content, and in how we retain intellectual property rights to those contents.” It has 34 Spanish- and English-language series planned for this year.
One of Mediapro’s most anticipated film projects is the latest feature from Woody Allen, which Roures confirmed will start shooting in the Basque Country in July. Without offering further details, he also confirmed it will deal with the subject of film and will have Spanish and American stars. He said Allen would present the project in Spain before filming begins.
Besides Allen, Mediapro has worked with globally renowned directors like Oliver Stone, Paolo Sorrentino and Roman Polanski, and partnered with the likes of HBO, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Turner, DirecTV, Movistar, FOX, Viacom and Televisa, among others.
All this “tells us there’s an appreciation for our work and that our products are quality enough to function all over the world,” Roures said. “It speaks well of them, it speaks well of us and it speaks well of the Spanish audiovisual industry.”
Mediapro’s hit series Locked Up, produced by label Globomedia for Atresmedia and then Fox, will premiere on Hulu in Japan on April 23, making it the first Spanish series on the streaming service. The company’s sales unit, Imagina, previously sold the series, from creator Alex Pina (Money Heist) to Amazon Prime U.S. and Walter Presents.
“The Mediapro Studio’s structure encompasses the entire chain of value, including development, creation, production, audiovisual services, artistic direction and distribution,” the company summarized in a statement about the launch last month. The global focus “will enable the Group to create large franchises, fund projects and control distribution and intellectual property rights in association with large international partners.”
Last year, Chinese investment fund Orient Hontai acquired a majority stake in the company, which Mediapro cites as driving expansion throughout Southeast Asia, with the opening of delegations in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong.
Content creation is one of four areas of specialty at Mediapro, Roures said on Thursday. The others are audiovisual rights, audiovisual services and digital and eSports. Roures fielded multiple questions at the conference about the Real Madrid soccer club ending its 18-year relationship with his company. The club opted not to renew Mediapro’s contract managing Real Madrid TV in June in favor of a bid from Telefonica and Supersport, which works with Mediaset.
Earlier this week Mediapro launched the 24/7 Canadian soccer channel and OTT platform OneSoccer in partnership with the Canadian Soccer Business and the Canadian Premier League. It has plans to launch another 24/7 channel for live coverage of French League matches.
Two Mediapro non-fiction soccer productions for Amazon Prime were also nominated this year for five Sports Emmy Awards — All or Nothing: Manchester City and Six Dreams.
The New Economic Forum, which hosted Roures on Thursday, was created in Spain in 2000 as a non-partisan platform for debating social, political and economic ideas.