‘Seagal’ arrests Europe

AETN grows apace

“Steven Seagal: Lawman,” the A&E Network reality skein is arrestingly popular in Europe.

On the second day of the Mip TV mart in Cannes, “Seagal” closed deals with M6 in France and TV4 in Scandinavia plus webs in much of Eastern Europe.

The 12-part half-hour series airs on Blighty’s Fiver and the Crime & Investigation network, W9 in Gaul, RTL 4 and RTL 5 in Holland and Russia’s Ren TV.

“Seagal” is just one sign of a growing appetite for programming in Europe and beyond from AETN Intl., the overseas arm of A&E TV Networks. In China, the net has created an hourly daily programming block, New Horizons, with Beijing-based production company Yuanchun, which is arranging a six-region TV broadcast reaching 22 million homes. AETN Intl. is aiming to expand to another six regions this year.

“We’ve been trying to sell to the Chinese market. This deal represents big volume,” said AETN Intl. senior VP Sean Cohan.

Aside from the Yuanchun deal, Cohan said AETN had sold 450 hours of programming to 25 broadcasters in Asia in the first quarter of the year, up 50% on the same time in 2009.

Sales have increased in Japan, Cohan added. AETN has also broken into new markets with channels in Taiwan, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Driving the sales uptick, Cohan said, is “increasingly entertaining product, higher production standards, more sales people with feet on the street and the performance of AETN’s brand and content in the U.S. — that gives you a bit of a halo.”

In Europe, where AETN program sales rose about 40%, the net bowed the Crime & Investigation channel in Poland early March. One of the few major markets where AETN still has to bow channels is Russia and the CIS.

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