HBO Spain Launches in Star-Studded Event

Richard Plepler- Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit-Getty-H 2016
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HBO top brass trumpeted the company's "fastest OTT launch" ever.

HBO officially set up shop in Spain on Thursday, hitting the point home by parading Sarah Jessica Parker, Jeffrey Wright and Liam Cunningham to local media.

“We have a crazy number of quality series,” said HBO Europe chief Herve Payan, citing programming from U.S. and Europe, and more specifically Spain.

Payan said that in addition to series and movies, HBO Spain would offer a new section of family and kids programming and up its initial catalogue of 3,000 programs upon launch to 5,000 in a “very short time.”

“Next year, we will add one new series every week,” Herve told The Hollywood Reporter. “We need to keep adding fresh product because it maintains subscribers and lowers churn. Beyond volume, the main issue for the consumer is quality and in this we are unsurpassed.”

But it was the idea of “talent is sacred, storytellers are sacred” that all the voices onstage agreed was the hallmark of HBO’s success.

To that end, Parker, Wright and Cunningham each spoke of HBO as a home for artists.

“It is very much a place where you want to be unconventional and you’re told to follow your instincts,” said Parker, starring in HBO’s comedy series Divorce.

HBO aired Nov. 28 in Spain as a stand-alone streaming server, in what HBO CEO Richard Plepler called the “fastest OTT launch so far.” It is also the first direct to consumer launch in Europe since the Nordic countries success that has garnered some 1 million subscribers.

Plepler and Payan both spoke of tailoring strategy on a country-by-country basis.

Payan said HBO Spain has earmarked “tens of millions” for indigenous Spain productions.

“Indigenous programming always does better in individual markets,” Payan said. “Spain has a long tradition of successful domestic production, so of course we will produce locally.”

Payan said they will wait for the right program and direct it specifically toward the Spanish market, but emphasized as soon as we do it in Spain the series is “immediately” offered worldwide.

Miguel Salvat, longtime Canal Plus Spain and then Movistar+ executive, is slated to start work in January as HBO Spain’s head of programming and oversee domestic production. Payan said Salvat “already has a few projects in mind, but it will take two years” to come to fruition.

“Everything will revolve around finding the right idea, something that hasn’t been done before. Something that is really bold,” Payan said.

Despite coming on the heels of Netflix's first anniversary and Movistar+'s increasing VOD presence in Spain, HBO brass said they don't fear competition thanks to their plethora of award-winning franchises.

"We've been dealing with competition since we began. We want to play our own game. The best thing we offer is the power and magnetism of our brand," Plepler said.