ITV Studios Sets Up Shop in Spain With Netflix Executive; Global Production Boss Lisa Perrin Outlines Strategy (EXCLUSIVE)

ITV Studios is growing its sizeable global footprint with a new Spanish scripted production company that extends one of the super-indie’s most recognizable banners.

Leading Italian producer Cattleya, the makers of “Gomorrah,” “Suburra” and “ZeroZeroZero,” will expand into Spain with Cattleya Producciones. Led by former Netflix executive Arturo Díaz — in a rare instance of streaming talent rejoining the production ranks — the company will specialize in high-end drama for Spain and the global market.

Díaz, who will serve as managing director, was recently director of original content at Netflix, overseeing series in Spain and Latin America, and based out of Los Angeles for five years. His executive producer credits include the smash hit “Las Chicas de Cable,” the streamer’s longest-running non-U.S. series. He also oversaw the development of “Elite” and the recent “Rebelde” reboot.

Cattleya Producciones will be overseen by Cattleya founder and co-CEO Riccardo Tozzi alongside co-CEOs Giovanni Stabilini and Marco Chimenz, as well as Lisa Perrin, managing director of international production for ITV Studios, which will distribute its shows globally.

Former Endemol Shine executive Perrin, who joined ITV Studios last spring, oversees the producer-distributor’s 14-label production network outside the U.S. and U.K., for which Spain has been something of a void — until now. The distribution arm had previously struck a first-look deal through Boomerang for non-scripted, but a drama offering has been conspicuously absent.

“For me, having Spanish-language was a key part of my strategy,” says Perrin. “It’s not just [about accessing] Spain — it’s Latin America and U.S. Hispanic. There are over 500 million Spanish speakers around the world.”

As for why ITV Studios would rather grow Cattleya than buy an existing Spanish company, or perhaps even start from scratch with a new outfit, Perrin says careful consideration has gone into not simply investing in “any company, in any territory.”

Fortuitously, Italy’s Cattleya, the executive explains, had been fielding queries from the streaming giants about Spanish-language shows. “It was a happy accident,” says Perrin. “We took a look at the Spanish market, we knew we wanted to move there as soon as we possibly could, and rather than us buying a big entity, it seemed like a really good way of moving into Spain with top talent that we know streamers want to work with.”

ITV Studios is a heavy-hitting producer in the U.S., where it makes the likes of “Love Island” and “Queer Eye,” and the U.K., where its roster of companies produces the record-breaking “Line of Duty,” “Bodyguard” and “The Graham Norton Show.”

But as the proliferation of streamers opens bold new channels for non-English language content, the potential for ITV Studios’ global production outfits has come into sharp focus.

Increasingly, the company is investing in the likes of Denmark’s Apple Tree Productions, headed by “The Killing” producer Piv Bernth; France’s Tetra Media, which makes “Paris Police 1900”; and a new German label from “Das Boot” producer Moritz Polter.

Regarding the scope of shows to expect from Cattleya Producciones, Perrin says the focus is very much “on the premium content that everybody wants to buy at the moment.” And thanks to production largely being allowed to continue across Europe during the pandemic, a slate won’t be too far off in the future.

Indeed, aside from Cattleya, Perrin says there are no productions on hold at any of ITV Studios’ international labels. This is good news for ITV shareholders, who have seen the company, like many others, battered by COVID-19.  ITV’s annual results in March revealed that total external revenue was down 16%, with ITV Studios’ total revenues down 25%. Overall, ITV Studios profits were down 43% to £152 million ($210.2 million), impacted by the decline in revenue and the costs associated with COVID-19 safety measures.

Coronavirus is a “fact of life” at this point, Perrin says, and people are still contracting the illness on certain productions. The difference, she highlights, is that “unlike last year where it was all sort of, ‘Oh my God, what’s going to happen?’ there are solid [government] protocols in place, we’ve got solid protocols in place, and they’ve all been tested on these productions all the time, and they carry on.”

Most productions conduct tests twice a week, and in markets like Australia, where ITV Studios Australia makes shows such as “The Voice,” “Love Island” and “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!” filming is now underway with live studio audiences of 350-400 people.

On the unscripted side, the first year for the former Endemol Shine Creative Networks CEO — known as a formats connoisseur on the international TV circuit — has centered on prioritizing development and delivering formats such as “Love Island” in Germany, the Netherlands and Australia; “The Chase” in Australia; “The Voice” in Germany, Australia and Finland; and “Pretty Small” in the Netherlands.

Shows like “Love Island Germany” have already shot a season in Tenerife, and will return to Mallorca in the summer. Meanwhile, the Dutch production of the hit format will also head to Tenerife, while the Australians will continue to film the show down under.

“Most of our countries that have ‘Love Island’ up and running are filming it or have filmed it already,” says Perrin. “They are full steam ahead.”

The U.K. version of the show, though outside Perrin’s remit, is slated to go ahead this summer, and the executive says the channel and producers are “absolutely busting a gut to make it happen,” though where and when it will take place is still not set in stone.

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