U to launch 13th St. in Germany April 30

Action/suspense channel bows in Berlin, Spain to follow

Universal Studios Networks has set April 30 as the launch date for its action suspense channel in Germany, 13th Street, having secured a broadcast license from the Berlin-Brandenburg media authorities for its operation.

Operated out of Munich as one of the services on the Kirch-led digital platform, the channel will be built around local Teutonic fare and Universal’s vast library of current and classic programming.

Short on specifics

Specific studio movie and TV titles will be announced in a couple of weeks, but it is understood that the channel will rely mainly on top U titles from two or three years back. Local product will come onstream as deals with German and Euro distribs are worked out.

Tony Garland, president of Universal Studios Networks, who is based in London, said the German channel will be “different in tone” from the one in France — more action-oriented rather than mystery, suspense and film noir.

13th Street Germany is the second action channel to be launched by the studio’s international TV division in Europe, following the debut of 13th Street in France last November on the Canal Satellite digital platform.

Universal Studios Networks is also responsible for expanding the reach of the Sci Fi Channel Europe, which currently broadcasts in the U.K.

Plans for Spain

A further launch of the action channel is expected in Spain later in the year, and USN is launching a movie channel in Italy in several months.

Garland said breakeven for the German 13th Street is projected in fewer than five years.

“Securing this license to broadcast enables us to provide a broad range of exciting programming from Universal, while at the same time developing local product to reflect the specific interests of this market,” he said.

“We think it’s important to be in on the ground floor of this infant business (pay channel development) in Germany,” Garland added, pointing out that it was too early to talk about subscriber count or advertiser support for the German venture.

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