Italy’s Mediaset, Netflix sign co-production deal, involving 7 films

Italian broadcaster Mediaset has announced a seven-film co-production deal with U.S.-based media and content production giant Netflix.

The deal will see the two companies share the costs behind seven films, all shot in Italy by local filmmakers. Once completed, the films will be available exclusively on the Netflix subscription platform for a year, after which they will be shown on Mediaset’s free-to-air channels in Italy and elsewhere in Europe.

The first films to be produced under the cooperation agreement will include “The Divine Ponytail,” the biography of Italy’s pony-tailed soccer icon Roberto Baggio, and “Caught by a Wave,” a teen romantic comedy set on the southern Italian island of Sicily.

The films will not have a traditional cinema run, meaning Mediaset’s well-established distribution arm, Medusa Film, will have limited involvement. Infinity, Mediaset’s own streaming service and a minor Netflix rival, will also be left out of the deal, according to media reports.

The companies are casting the agreement as a win-win situation, allowing them to share the risks and costs associated with the production, while learning from the other company’s know-how and adding diversity to their lineups and exposure for their productions.

“Great stories can come from anywhere and can be beloved everywhere,” Reed Hastings, Netflix’s founder and chief executive officer said in a statement.

“It’s about telling stories about Italy using Italian talent,” added Alessandro Salem, content director for Mediaset.

“The influence and power of the two companies are going in opposite directions,” Innocenzo Genna, a telecommunications and Internet regulation analyst and co-founder of Digit@lians, a network of professionals in digital fields, said in an interview. “If this turns out to go beyond a seven-film deal it would be particularly helpful for Mediaset to gain exposure via Netflix.”

Albert Pasquale, a professor of media economics with Rome’s La Sapienza University, said it will be key to see how well the collaboration works for the first films.

“It’s an old world, new world, traditional media and sector innovator, working together,” Pasquale told Xinhua. “We don’t know how well it will work, but there is a chance for both sides to come out ahead and if they do, it could help trigger more cooperation deals, whether with these two companies or with others.”