Telecom Companies Get In on the Peak TV Boom

Courtesy of MOVISTAR
'La Zona'

Deep-pocketed telcos — from France's SFR to Spain's Telefonica — are backing new series in an effort to drive subs to their streaming services.

The single biggest new trend in international television is the move by telecommunications companies into original content. To compete with Netflix and Amazon Prime, telco giants — France's SFR, Spain's Telefonica, the U.K.'s BT, Germany's Deutsche Telekom and Australia's Foxtel, among others — are investing in original series to drive subscriptions for their homegrown pay TV and streaming services. Given the companies' size, reach and deep pockets — Deutsche Telekom had 2016 revenues of $73 billion, Telefonica of $52 billion — their shift to original content could be an industry game-changer.

At MIPCOM this year, buyers will get a look at Telefonica's first original productions for its premium pay channel Movistar+. This will include the Oct. 16 premiere of thriller La Zona, which is set in the wake of a meltdown at a nuclear power plant in Northern Spain. Germany's Beta Film is handling world sales on the series. Just ahead of MIPCOM, Deutsche Telekom announced its first original series, the culture-clash comedy Germanized, a co-production between Bavaria Fernsehproduktion and France's Telfrance about a sleepy French village on the verge of bankruptcy that welcomes in a German company along with hundreds of German workers. These new shows are among the first in what could be the next big boom in original production — if they pay off. MIPCOM will be their initial testing ground. 

This story first appeared in the Oct. 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.