Telefónica is backing itself to become the world’s leading provider of Spanish content as it unveiled plans to spend €70 million this year on creating original TV programmes.

The operator’s Spanish arm Movistar has promised to make four original drama series this year and 10 in 2018.

Luis Miguel Gilpérez, CEO of Telefónica Spain, described the pay TV market in Spain as “sluggish” with a penetration rate “well below” the rest of Europe.

He talked up his company’s prospects as it unveiled details of La Peste, a six-part thriller set in a bubonic plague-threatened Seville during the 16th Century.

Gilpérez promised “cinema-level production standards” and “top national talent” for La Peste, in which Telefónica is investing €10 million.

It is due for broadcast in September.

Domingo Corral, Original Production Director at Movistar Plus described the plans as “a huge challenge” but that the “unprecedented production effort” would give the operator “a competitive advantage”.

Movistar had 3.7 million pay TV customers at the end of September 2016.

Gilpérez said: “We are not a vertical catalogue of films and series.

“We are a player combining the best content – 16,000 titles altogether and more than 660 series – and the best connectivity, the best technical functionalities and the finest client knowledge – four features no competitor can meet.”

He added: “Television, combined with optical-fibre networks and mobile networks are the pillars of our strategy – offering the best TV content included in ‘Fusión’ allows us to integrate in our convergent offer a unique element and provides added value to our network.”

Last week, Telefónica unveiled a partnership with online gaming company ESL to develop a platform, exclusive content and a professional electronic sports club in Spain.

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