Movies without commercial breaks pump ratings in Spain

The ad nix has created a new phenom — “cine sin publi,” movies without commercial breaks — which is taking Spain by storm.

TVE was already the country’s ratings leader. December aud share at core channel TVE1 was 16.5% vs. commercial web Telecinco’s 15.4% and rival Antena 3’s 13.7%.

That gap widened in January with TVE1 boasting an 18.9% aud share vs. Telecinco’s 14.4% and Antena 3’s 12.7%.

Ratings also-rans of late, movies once more rank as TV blockbusters. On Jan. 24, TVE1 aired “Knocked Up” in its Movie of the Week slot on Sunday. Pic knocked out all comers with a 21.6% share and 4 million viewers, against 13.1% and 2.5 million eyeballs for Telecinco’s miniseries “Inocentes,” and 13.1% and 2.7 million for Antena 3’s satirical show “La escobilla nacional.”

Jan. 3’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” notched up 31.7% and 5.7 million, and Nicolas Cage starrer “National Treasure” (29.1% and 5.8 million) also scored a week later.

Highest-rated movie on TV last year was “The Lake House” with 24.2% and 4.8 million. The most obvious explanation for Spain’s “cine sin publi” boom is that a large part of TVE1’s older-skewing audience rarely catches movies on pay TV or in theaters, and certainly not via downloads.

The commercial-less programming is boosting auds in general. The second season of 17th-century caped crusader actioner “Red Eagle,” TVE’s top drama, recalled ratings of yore, bowing Jan. 7 to a 27.6% share and 5.6 million viewers.

TVE’s ratings domination looks set to last, given that it extends to its entire sked, argues Eduardo Garcia Matilla, prexy of aud research company Corp. Multimedia.

“TVE doesn’t depend so much on primetime as its rivals,” he says. “Its after-lunch telenovelas and newscasts, now stretched to 65 minutes, are also firing well.”

For Telecinco and Antena 3, who campaigned for years for an ad nix at TVE, the commercials-free pubcaster is a poisoned chalice.

Telecinco and Antena 3 aim to hike advertising prices 15%-20% this month. That’s going to be difficult when they’re losing so much share.

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