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NBC U’s into the classics

Winter predicts 1% market share in first 12 months

BERLIN — NBC Universal Global Networks Deutschland will launch a free-TV channel in Germany this fall showcasing classic Universal films and series such as “Magnum P.I.,” “Ironside” and “Knight Rider.”

Despite Germany’s saturated TV market — country already has some 35 free-to-air channels, NBC U Deutschland managing director Wolfram Winter said he’s confident advertisers will respond, predicting the new web will achieve a market share of 1% its first 12 months and reach profitability in a few years.

With its mix of series and films, which will include classic Alfred Hitchcock titles, the channel could fill a niche in Germany for fictional fare: for the past few years, Germany’s leading networks have embraced reality programming but are now returning to scripted skeins as interest in gameshows and reality formats wanes.

The as yet-unnamed channel launches Sept. 29, replacing NBC Europe, which has mainly relied on Giga, a daily German-language Internet and gaming format that has made up most of the web’s programming.

Part of the Giga program will be integrated into the new channel, however, and another Giga pay TV digital web is being planned. NBC U already has two other pay TV digital webs on offer here, Sci Fi Channel and 13th Street.

NBC U’s free-TV venture looks likely to go head-to-head with Herbert Kloiber’s Tele 5. Kloiber is giving his reality and gameshow-heavy web a facelift, dumping its current programming lineup for films and series from his Tele Munchen Group, which has one of the largest programming libraries in Europe.

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