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Netflix, Spanish Pubcaster RTVE Pact on TV Series ‘The Department of Time’

Variety logo Variety 12/30/2016 Emiliano De Pablos
© Provided by Variety

Spanish pubcaster RTVE announced Thursday that Netflix has acquired global streaming rights outside Spain to time-travel TV series “The Department of Time.”

The series, whose third season started production Dec. 12, will be available for Netflix users once RTVE’s core channel La 1 has broadcast the completed season in Spain.

RTVE plans to premiere the series’ third installment in Spain via La 1 and website rtve.es in 2017, the company said in a statement.

After months of rumours, the confirmation of the Netflix deal comes as the time-travel series is aiming forihigher-end production values for its new season.

According to RTVE, the third season “will count with substantial improvements in production and postproduction, more location-shot scenes and special effects, infographics plus 3D that will make its quality superior to that of the previous two seasons.”

One of Spain’s biggest transmedia fiction projects to date, which includes a VR episode, “The Department of Time” boast a strong fan-base and has garnered strongly positive reviews by local TV critics.

Launched Feb. 2015 in a weekly primetime slot on La 1, the series debuted with an upbeat 14.8% audience share and 2.9 million viewers, cuming a solid 12.3% share and 2.5 million eyeballs after its first season. Broadcast from April, the second season edged down to 2.3 million and 11.9% share.

Created by brothers Javier and Pablo Olivares and produced for RTVE by Onza and Cliffhanger, the sci-fi series departs from the premise that there is a secret state department since the time of the Catholic Kings in 15th century Spain which allows people to travel into the past.

The civil servants working in the department are in charge of watching the time doors, with the aim of preventing any intruder from the past entering in the present – or vice versa – to change the course of history to their own benefit.

The third season will keep its seal of adventure series, combining history with fantasy and drama with humor, but will especially focus on the Americas, according to RTVE.

Historical figures and events for the new season will include the Borgias, Simon Bolivar, the Normandy Invasion and even Alfred Hitchcock visiting the San Sebastian Film Festival in 1958.

RTVE’s commercial arm, which handles the series’ original production sales already licensed Latin American OTT rights to Televisa platform Blim. Series’ remake rights have been sold by Onza to Beijing-based Guan Yue in China and Veralia in Portugal, among other territories.

“The Department of Time” has not been exempt from controversy. As Deadline reported in September, Spain’s Onza sued Sony, NBCUniversal and Shawn Ryan and Eric Kripke, creators of new skein “Timeless,” claiming that they stole the idea for NBC’s new time-travel drama.

Onza Entertainment claimed the series “ripped off” its copyrighted format “The Department of Time.” The company said it had been in talks with Sony to produce an American version, the Deadline report added.

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