17 APR 2023

Christian Gockel: “Our goal is to produce the best drama out of Europe”

Christian Gockel, Executive Vice President of International Operations at Beta Films and co-CEO at Beta Spain, goes deep into the company’s international strategy and features the evolution of its different business models.

17 APR 2023

Christian Gockel

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Beta Film started very actively in 2023, with several worldwide deals for shows like “The Swarm,” “Sisi,” and the Movistar Plus+ catalog. Señal News talked with Christian Gockel, Executive Vice President of International Operations at Beta Films and co-CEO at Beta Spain, who described the challenges and goals of the company.

▸ What is the international strategy of Beta to expand its global growth?

“Beta stands for close relationships with the best creatives all over Europe to bring the best product to the international market. Our strategy can be summarized by the phrase ‘local content globally successful.’ That means we are looking for the right mixture of local elements that appeal to a global audience in the projects we acquire or coproduce. On the other hand, distribution is our DNA, which combines with our creative input. Our ultra-connected territory-by-territory international sales and acquisition apparatus helps to find those projects. We have combined that with Beta’s biggest strategic pivot in recent years: going from picking up and selling finished shows to far larger production involvement. Our goal is to produce the best drama out of Europe, together with the best creatives in front of and behind the camera, involving the best producers and those that can finance the necessary means to make a project happen.”

▸ What are the most suitable business models for the company today?

“Distribution is where we come from, is our DNA. Coproduction is also a big part of our growing business. We have a network of over 30 production companies, which are part of the Beta Group, as a key source of projects, and, additionally, we engage in our own co-development and co-financing activities. Independent production companies all over Europe are increasingly at the core of our business. Our revamped strategy allows us to be part of early-stage local projects."

▸ How would you analyze the evolution of coproduction in the past years?

"We all face increasing costs and public and private broadcasters' decreasing budgets. There are also far fewer opportunities to go with one partner to produce a show competing in today's market. We must find ways to combine resources, in part by crossing borders, which leads to more international shows. Coproduction also allows writers from different countries to collaborate, which has quickly developed a creative upside over the last few years."

▸ What is the distribution strategy of Beta for Spain and Portugal?

"We consider Spain one of our key markets, and we have been there for decades and maintain a close relationship with all players. Portugal is still a challenge in terms of distribution as being a smaller market with fewer players. Our efforts are currently concentrated in the Spanish market. Platforms acquisitions have been reduced drastically in both markets, but it will change by the end of the year. Linear channels demand good European prime-time shows, and light fiction is also trendy again, as viewers have been overloaded with complex high-end dramas. One of our goals is to find ready-made shows that can travel or be adapted into strong European IPs. Some great examples are 'Commissar REX,' a light-crime procedural cop show that was locally adapted in many territories, and 'Hudson and Rex,' a Canadian show with over 100 episodes produced."

▸ How do you analyze the growth potential for the company around Latin America?

"We have been in the Latin America market since the mid-90s. Our core business was to bring European content to the region. Straight distribution is still important; however, we must expand our production and coproduction activities. We will face that challenge with our Spanish production companies, Beta Fiction Spain and Beta Entertainment. We believe in the Latin America region and foresee finding the right partner or establishing our own production unit there."

By Diego Alfagemez