Company grows subscriber base to 180 million

CANNES — Universal Networks Intl.’s recent roll-out of pay webs in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa looks to have defied the economic downturn.

The company, which in October announced investment in a refocused portfolio of core channel brands — Syfy Universal, Diva Universal, 13th Street Universal, Universal Channel and Studio Universal — claims to have grown its subscriber base to 180 million backed by distribution in 150 countries.

“Universal Networks Intl. is delivering on its promises and we mean business,” said Laurent Dumeau, global affiliate sales VP.

“We take great pride in partnering with our customers to distribute our global brands and content in a tailored format in local markets.”

Since 2007 the firm has upped its number of channels worldwide from 14 to 70 webs. More roll-outs are planned and HD services are a priority.

Recent bows have included the Universal Channel in Japan and South Africa, plus Syfy Universal in France, the U.K., Spain, Benelux and Russia.

The firm said launching the female-skewed Studio Universal in Latin America had seen a 20% year-on-year pan-regional rise in the key demographic of women aged 18-49 years old. Meanwhile Syfy Universal’s launch in France in January witnessed a 43% increase in its core 25-49 demographic.

Strategy has been underpinned by what Universal described as “a significant investment” in original and first-run fare for these pay webs.

An example of this is Canadian cop show “Rookie Blue,” made in collaboration with E1 Entertainment, which will be given a hefty push at this week’s Mip sales mart. Show stars Missy Peregrym and Gregory Smith who will be in Cannes to hype the show.

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