Local pix making a big push

Territory report: Russia

MOSCOW — Local series may dominate Russia’s primetime programming but growing film purchases from the majors are making a push.

And with prices for top product up about 50% over a year ago, Hollywood sellers are paying more attention.

With foreign series, it’s long been another matter and there’s no sign that last season’s experience — when only “Sex and the City” came in the local top 10 — will be changing.

As the local production scene grows, with many of the harder criminal dramas in their fourth or fifth seasons, the market is broadening its reach. Action staples are ceding share to more family- and female-friendly fare.

Pubcaster Rossia is pushing ahead with a third run of woman detective skein “Kamenskaya,” while web CTC has been up at the top of the new season’s ratings with adaptations from bestselling author Darya Dontsova (follow-ups for 2004 are already in production).

Classics of various sorts are also back in fashion.

Rossia will follow its successful Dostoevsky adaptation “The Idiot” with others, and has “Anna Karenina” penciled in for this season, as well as a big-budget remake of Soviet-era “The Amphibian.” First Channel is due to adapt another of cult writer Boris Akunin’s period detective stories.

Between them, that should make for a new kind of Russian presence at Mipcom as sellers of quality costume fare that could well find a wider than usual global market.

On the broader TV scene, channel fragmentation is increasingly evident, with top national channels First and Rossia losing significant ground to emerging webs.

The season’s most tightly fought battles are likely to be for the three to six slots.

U.S. majority-owned CTC, run for just over a year by Alexander Rodnyansky, has gained the most ground and looks set for further growth based on the topper’s own production experience and partnership with other leading players.

With CTC’s share now around 9%, it’s hoping to advance into double figures — and compete with national NTV (14%) — with more local flavor to parts of its sked moderating highly branded prime slots geared toward U.S. pics.

In turn, rival TNT is chasing CTC.

Sound like a standoff conflict?

With Endemol working directly in the Russian market, reality shows will be coming through aplenty, with local versions of “Big Brother” and “Fear Factor” booked by First Channel for around the new year.

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