Netflix Extends Carriage Agreement With Spain’s Movistar+

Netflix has renewed its carriage distribution agreement with Spain’s Movistar+ online TV platform for another five years.

Netflix made news in 2018 when it initially signed the deal. Since then, the pact has proved beneficial for both companies, with Netflix’s brand boosting Movistar’s profile, which has resulted in an uptick of original programming. Movistar, which is owned by Spanish telecom giant Telefonica, boasts a subscriber base of around 4 million — of which around 33% also subscribe to Netflix.

Netflix’s original program “Money Heist” (known as “La Casa de Papel” in Spain) ranks as one of the streamer’s most-successful TV series, with more than 1.4 billion hours streamed.

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Netflix and Other Streamers Avoid Proposed Spanish Tax Until 2023

Netflix, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video and other U.S. streaming video operations in Spain will reportedly avoid being subjected to a proposed 5% tax on revenue generated in the country until 2023.

Under the government’s “Digital Spain 2025” initiative, foreign streaming services generating at least 50 million euros ($56.7 million) would be levied the tax, with the funds used to support independent Spanish cinema and public television network RTVE, among others.

Reuters reported that at least 6% of the streaming platforms’ content must be in Spain’s co-official languages: Catalan, Galician or Basque. The requirement is part of a broader European Union mandate requiring foreign streamers produce at least 30% of their original content in Europe.

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The tax proposal, introduced this year in the Spanish Parliament, was shelved for a year until regulators obtain the streamers’ 2022 local tax returns — a contentious issue as many platforms are officially based in tax-friendly countries such Luxembourg and Ireland.

The EU has upped efforts to enforce regulatory measures on U.S. tech/media giants such as Google, Amazon, Netflix and Disney, which it claims often take steps to avoid paying regional sales taxes.

Spain last year passed a law imposing a 3% tax on internet behemoths Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, with individual global revenue of at least 750 million euros ($850 million) and 3 million euros ($3.4 million) in Spain.

HBO Max No. 3 SVOD in Spain Since Launching in October

Just a month after launch, HBO Max is reportedly the No. 3 streaming service in Spain, according to published data from Smartme Analytics.

WarnerMedia in late October launched HBO Max in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Spain and Andorra as part of a broader European rollout in 2022.

One month later, Max already has nearly 5% market penetration. The successor to HBO España, Max passed Disney+, which has 4.3% market penetration. Disney+ launched in Europe in March 2020. 

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Assisting Max’s rollout will be a 50% price cut on the standard €8.99 ($10.40) monthly fee through Nov. 30 for the lifetime of the subscription, unless canceled.

Spain’s SVOD market leader continues to be Netflix with 20.7% market share, followed by Amazon Prime Video with 8.7% share.

HBO Max Launches Service in The Nordics, Spain — at Half Price

WarnerMedia’s branded subscription streaming service HBO Max officially launched service today (Oct. 26) in the Nordics (Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Iceland) and Spain. The debut is part of a 27-territory rollout in Europe through 2022.

As part of the rollout, all new subscribers through Nov. 30 will get 50% off the standard monthly price for the lifetime of their subscription. In Spain and Finland, for example, this means new subs pay €4.49 ($5.21) a month. This is in addition to the already announced annual subscription, which cuts the standard monthly fee 30% to $7.35.

HBO and HBO Max ended the most-recent fiscal period with almost 70 million global subs.

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Max Originals coming to HBO Max in Europe in the run up until Christmas include the reboot of “Gossip Girl,” the next chapter of “Sex in the City” with “And Just Like That …,” and Mindy Kaling’s “The Sex Lives of College Girls.” New European productions include the award-winning Danish drama “Kamikaze,” the second season of Norwegian hit “Beforeigners,” and the return of Juan Carrasco in “Venga Juan” and “Dafne and the Rest.”

Top movies coming to Max in the Nordics on launch day include Reminiscence, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, Godzilla vs. Kong and Mortal Kombat. Warner Bros. movies premiere on Max 45 days after their theatrical release starting this year in the Nordics and next year in Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Greece, Iceland and Central and Eastern Europe, including the Baltic nations.

“With the launch in Europe today, Max is now available in 46 territories globally,” Johannes Larcher, head of HBO Max International, said in a statement. “This is an important milestone as we continue to deliver on our ambition to roll out Max around the world with more territories to come in Europe and Asia next year.”

Max will be available to watch on leading devices and platforms, including smart-TVs (Samsung, LG and Android TV), via streaming devices (Apple TV 4K and Google Chromecast), game consoles (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S) mobile and tablets (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android), and online at www.HBOMax.com. HBO Max will also be available through selected TV distribution partners. Customers will be able to pay via major providers (Visa, Mastercard and PayPal) and via in-app purchase (Apple App Store and Google Play Store).

HBO Max offers up to five viewer profiles, three concurrent streams and no limit on devices per subscription. Select titles are available in 4K, 5.1 Sound and Dolby Atmos.

Netflix Doubles Madrid, Spain Production Facilities

Netflix continues to boost its commitment to Spanish original content production by expanding its studio space in Tres Cantos (Madrid). This hub, opened two years ago, will have double the amount of sets (10 versus five) and will add new post-production facilities.

The hub will also have, among other new features, enhanced filming and editing rooms incorporating the latest innovation and technology. This extension should be completed by late 2022.

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“We are proud to keep strengthening our commitment to Spain. With the new additions, creators will count with the latest tools to keep telling great stories made in Spain,” Diego Ávalos, VP of original content at Netflix Spain, said in a statement. “We will continue to work on fully supporting the sustainable development of Spanish audiovisual productions, in all their diversity.”

Since its arrival in 2015, Netflix has released more than 50 titles made in Spain. These generated more than 7,500 jobs for cast and crew, as well as 41,000 days of work for extras in productions filmed all over the country. This year’s current productions (in different stages) are expected to hire over 1,500 professionals and create over 21,000 days of work for extras.

As part of its goal to support the diversity of stories and formats, Netflix recently revealed its pending made-in-Spain productions. The streamer will also be bringing three Spanish novels to our screensUn cuento perfecto, by Elisabet Benavent, that questions self-expectations as the way to happiness; La chica de nieve by Javier Castillo, the great thriller phenomenon; and Hijas del Camino by Lucía-Asué Mbomío, a ground-breaking debut about identity, family ties and the fight against racism.

Analyst: Spain to Top 20 Million OTT Video Subs by Next Year — Driven by Netflix

Spain is quietly emerging as a major market for over-the-top video distribution, driven by Netflix, HBO España and Amazon Studios. New data from eMarketer suggests the country will top 20 million OTT subs next year — or about 40.1% of the country’s population.

Indeed, Netflix began producing original content in Spain in 2016 and opened its first European production hub in Madrid in spring of 2019. A trend replicated by ViacomCBS and Spain-based broadcaster Astresmedia and telecom giants Orange and Telefónica — the latter via its streaming video service Movistar.

Though Netflix will boast the largest user base in Spain, its 70% market share of subscription OTT video subs is actually lower than in other major markets. In Germany, Netflix claims 77.1% of the SVOD market, and 80% in Denmark, France, and the U.K. The report suggests a wider variety of SVOD services in Spain undermines Netflix’s domination.

“[Subscriber] growth should slow down in H2 2020, so Netflix must continue to work hard and fend off competition from emerging platforms like Disney+, HBO Max, and even Amazon Prime Video,” Matteo Ceurvels, eMarketer research analyst covering Latin America and Spain at Insider Intelligence, said in a statement. “Though competition abounds, we still view the subscription OTT landscape as a story of ‘Netflix versus the rest.'”

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AMC Networks Bows First International VOD Access in Spain

“AMC Selekt,” AMC Networks’ upstart video-on-demand service, launched its first international operations in Spain.

The service will be added to France’s Orange TV at no additional cost. As a result of this first-time agreement, Orange TV platform subscribers can watch more than 5,000 programs throughout the year, in a wide variety of genres including films, series, documentaries, lifestyle, children’s content and music.

AMC Selekt content ranges from AMC Networks, Canal Hollywood, SundanceTV, Dark, XTRM, Odisea, Canal Cocina, Canal Decasa, Canal Panda and Sol Música.

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“AMC Selekt … is the largest channel network library available in Spain and, more importantly, the most diverse,” Manuel Balsera, EVP and managing director of AMCNISE, said in a statement. “We are delighted that AMC Selekt is debuting with Orange TV, which is one of our main distribution partners in the market.”

Subscribers will have access to series such as “Dispatches from Elsewhere,” “Das Boot,” “Wisting,” “Bordertown” and “This Close,” among others. Movies include The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Meet the Parents, Super 8 and The Addams Family; and documentaries on technology, nature and current events such as “The Harvey Weinstein Scandal,” “A Samurai at the Vatican” and “Antarctic Expedition.”

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In-house productions include culinary programs “Let’s Taste the World” and “Julius’ 22 Minutes,” home decoration and fashion shows “A Touch of Chus” and “Customize Your House”. The offer also includes music concerts by Vetusta Morla, Alice Wonder and Nunatak and children’s content such as “Masha and the Bear” and “Panda Kitchen.”

Vodafone Objects to Disney+ Telefónica Pact

The day after Spain’s telecom giant Telefónica and Disney announced an exclusive distribution deal for subscription streaming video service Disney+ through the former’s Movistar subsidiary, U.K.-based mobile carrier Vodafone is crying foul.

Disney+ streaming service is set to launch in select European countries on March 24.

Spanish daily El Espanol reports Vodafone sent a letter to the National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC) alleging the Disney/Telefónica deal amounts to “covert exclusivity” creating obstacles in its separate negotiation with Disney. An agreement Vodafone said “seemed closed” a few weeks ago.

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For Vodafone, which has seen its market share in Spain drop from 33% to less than 20% last year, according to Statista, securing a Disney+ distribution deal is key.

Vodafone claims the Telefónica and Disney deal “goes against its position as a dominant operator” and makes it difficult for other operators, including France’s Orange, to access Disney content within the legal framework established by the CNMC.

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Specifically, the government established regulation aimed at preventing companies with majority market share from using their clout to prevent competitors from negotiating for third-party content such as sports, movies and TV shows.

Vodafone cited similar government action when Movistar attempted shut out competitors securing exclusive rights to La Liga soccer, a move nixed by regulators.

Vodafone, according to El Espanol, contends that if CNMC does not intercede in the Disney+ agreement, “it would be accepting a fraud in the spirit of the [regulations].”

 

Telefónica to Distribute Disney+ Streaming Service in Spain

Ahead of its March 24 launch in Europe, Disney+ has inked distribution in Spain with multiplatform operator Telefónica. The Spanish distributor’s Movistar subsidiary and over-the-top video platform Movistar+ will distribute Disney+ in the region.

Disney’s branded subscription streaming video platform, which launched Nov. 12, 2019, in the United States, has more than 26 million subscribers. The service was initially set to launch across parts of Europe on March 31. That date was moved up a week across the U.K., Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, and Switzerland.

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The service, which offers Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, in addition to original content, features more than 25 exclusives, 500 movies and 300 series.

We’re delighted to have Telefónica on board for the launch of Disney+,” Jan Koeppen, president, The Walt Disney Company EMEA, said in a statement. “This marks an exciting new era of entertainment featuring premium content across our portfolio of brands, and we can’t wait for Movistar customers to experience it.”

Movistar, which is Spain’s largest telecom with more than 22 million subscribers, last year inked a partnership with Netflix.

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Spain Lawmakers Seeking 8% Tax on Foreign OTT Video Services

Lawmakers in Spain are looking to impose an 8% tax on over-the-top video services operating in the country, including Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, Sky Now and DAZN.

The so-called RTVE (Radio Television Espanola) tax is aimed at funding Spain’s ad-free public broadcaster, which has been undermined in recent years by plummeting advertising sales among commercial broadcasters, who contribute about 1.5% of their revenue to RTVE’s budget.

The proposed tax is incorporated in the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, which aims to level the playing among broadcasters such as Atresmedia and Mediaset, pay-TV operators/telecoms (Movistar, Telefónica España, Orange and Vodafone) and now OTT video.

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The updated law would impose a 5% tariff on in-state SVOD revenue earmarked toward domestic film production, and another 3% directed toward RTVE.

According to Spanish media site El Español, the tax would apply to revenue generated by an OTT service’s Spanish subscribers. As a result, HBO would be charged a percentage of the revenue generated by its 475,000 Spanish subs, instead of the company’s reported revenue based on the location of its tax-incentivized fiscal headquarters.

The tax  could become law by the end of the year.

Separately, local and national governments worldwide continue to search for ways to tap into the lucrative OTT landscape — with varying degrees of success.

Georgia lawmakers in February backed away from imposing a 4% tax on subscription streaming video services. The tax is still on the table for music services, video games and e-books.

“People didn’t like what has become known as the Netflix tax, so we took that off,” Rep. Bill Werkheiser told the media. “The effort initially was to help fund broadband. It won’t do that without the Netflix or streaming services tax.”