Spanish broadcast group to launch femme-skewing Nueve

MADRID — Mediaset Espana, Spain’s biggest commercial broadcast group, has acquired free-to-air rights to “Homeland,” continuing its drive into top U.S. series acquisitions.

The Emmy drama series winner will bow early next year on Cuatro, as Mediaset Espana seeks to build its second highest-rating service into a destination channel for U.S. skeins.

Deal takes in the first two seasons of the Fox-sold, Showtime aired sleeper terrorist thriller, starring Claire Danes and Damian Lewis.

“We went out of our way to acquire ‘Homeland,'” said Ghislain Barrois, Mediaset Espana acquisitions head. “It’s a series we all believe in at Mediaset Espana.”

Since April “Homeland” has been playing in Spain on Fox Espana, carried by satcaster Digital Plus, quickly consolidating as a critically acclaimed hit.

The pay to free-to-air transfer isn’t the first. In Italy, “Homeland” has aired on paybox Sky Italia’s Fox channel since February and on Sky’s free-to-air Cielo station since April.

“Spartacus” aired on Cuatro after playing Canal Plus in Spain, punching a 7.2% share, above Cuatro’s channel average.

“We’re thrilled with those results. Anything above channel numbers is amazing,” Barrois said.

In October, Mediaset Espana announced the acquisition of 10 U.S. series, including fall newbies “Elementary” and “The Last Resort.”

Whether Mediaset Espana will be paying as much as before for U.S. shows from next May’s L.A. Screenings is questionable, however.

First nine-month adjusted earnings plunged from Euros113.6 million ($149.2 million) in 2011 to $68.4 million this year as ad revenues dropped 13% to $830.1 million.

Rolling off a 45.4% ad market share in Spain, Mediaset Espana, like rival Antena 3, can leverage an effective TV duopoly in Spain, expanding as its pubcaster rivals in particular are hit by huge budget cuts.

On Monday, Mediaset Espana announced that a new channel, its eighth, the femme-skewed Nueve, launches Jan. 2.

Like Mediaset Espana’s male-targeting Energy, which acquires 52% of programming, it is likely to rely on bought-in shows for much of its grid.

Nick Vivarelli contributed to this report.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more