ROME, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Netflix has struck a deal with Italy's top commercial broadcaster Mediaset to produce films in the country, the two companies said on Tuesday, as they step up efforts to boost viewers amid tough competition.
The U.S. streaming service and Mediaset, which is controlled by the family of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, will co-finance movies shot in Italy by independent local film-makers.
The movies will be available worldwide on Netflix from next year. Mediaset will broadcast the Netflix-branded movies on its free-to-air television channels in Italy twelve months later.
Presenting the accord in Rome, Netflix and Mediaset unveiled the first five films they will co-produce, including 'The Divine Ponytail', a biopic on Italian soccer legend Roberto Baggio, 'Caught by a wave', a teenage romance set in Sicily and 'The last paradise', the real story of a 1950s farmer caught between social reform ideals and his love for a landowner's daughter.
"Great stories can come from anywhere and be loved everywhere", Netflix founder and Chief Executive Reed Hastings said, adding the deal aimed to broaden "the variety and diversity of our programming". (Reporting by Elvira Pollina, editing by Valentina Za)