Movistar Plus+’s Maria Valenzuela looks to “challenge” buyers & evolve thrillers for global market


Movistar Plus+’s international boss Maria Valenzuela is looking to challenge buyers and offer a “different approach” with its programming, as the fast-growing distribution arm embraces the global market.

Valenzuela and her team have already struck deals for Spanish shows such as Rapa with Lat Am streamer Vix+, while fellow Movistar drama La Unidad – Kabul was sold to Max in the US via Beta Film, with whom the company struck a distribution agreement in 2019.

The former Sony exec told NEM Dubrovnik that Movistar’s distribution arm is now looking to push boundaries on its scripted output and to avoid “producing within very clear patterns.”

“We have to challenge ourselves and we challenge those who buy from us too,” Valenzuela said, adding that it it “really important” for the Telefonica-backed firm to avoid simply repeating similar content trends.

Maria Valenzeula

The approach is in stark contrast to largely US-based streamer’s such as Paramount and Prime Video, which have more recently put franchises at the centre of their programming strategies.

“If you like bread you might like toast but it’s not what you want all the time. We want to be refreshing, we want to offer a different approach, an unexpected formula or unexpected characters who are interesting and provocative.”

Rethinking the thriller

Valenzuela’s current slate includes ambitious scripted series including The Left Handed Son and La Mesías, the latter of which is being taken to buyers around Europe this month.

She added that thrillers remain in demand but added that Movistar again wanted to push past predictable programming.

“Thrillers work very well but we don’t want to think about it in the same way as others. We want a show that is very character driven, that is what can be really thrilling.

“Look at Rapa, in the first episode you see someone has been killed in unique circumstances… and by the end of the first episode you can already see who has done it.

“The audience then is concentrating on why they did it and will they get away with it, that becomes the obsession. You have all the cards looking up on your plate and it’s great to see how that works out.

“We have found our DNA in trying to get our audience to be surprised with content that is not expected. We want to reinvent and find new ways to tell a story that allows us to believe in the talent and create shows that are very different while also being very Spanish and local.”

Valenzuela added that Movistar is watching the US writers strike “very cautiously” but admitted that it offers “a great chance” for non-US programming “to be in the spotlight”.

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