France's M6 bows next-day VOD of U.S. shows

French commercial network M6 has launched a subscription VOD service giving viewers unlimited access to episodes of U.S. TV skeins the day after their U.S. broadcast.

For a monthly fee of €9.99 ($13.56), Pass Series VIP offers new seasons of shows that already air on M6: “NCIS,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Medium” and “90210.” It also introduces viewers to four series bowing in the U.S. this month: “Blue Bloods,” “The Defenders,” “The Good Wife” and “Hawai Five-0.”

Jeremy Guillot, M6 head of fiction, film and youth programming, said the network also acquired free-to-air rights to the new episodes of “NCIS,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Medium” and “90210,” as well as the first season of “The Good Wife,” which he said will bow on M6 in 2011.

“Blue Bloods,” “The Defenders” and “Hawai Five-0″ were acquired exclusively for VOD, although they will likely air on M6 or its affiliate digital terrestrial TV channels later.

“We’re in a transitional period and this ‘day-after-U.S.-transmission’ offer is a relatively new mode of exploitation,” said Dan Cryan, head of Broadband at Screen Digest. “These subscription VOD services don’t yet bring substantial revenues, but they allow broadcasters to capture fragmented audiences and consolidate their brand as a source of quality entertainment, which is key.”

U.S. distribs have been increasingly willing to push overseas broadcast dates nearer to the U.S. bow to limit piracy, per Cryan.

M6′s rival TF1 pioneered the near day-to-day releases of U.S. shows in France more than year ago with Hot From the U.S., a VOD service giving access to American shows, notably “Flashforward,” for an individual fee.

M6′s Pass Series VIP will complement the network’s year-old VOD platform, the Pass Series, which features more than 800 episodes of shows, including “Californication” and “Desperate Housewives,” the day after they air on M6.

(Ian Mundell in Brussels contributed to this report.)

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