TV production in Brazil has spiked thanks to a new law that requires pay TV networks to air 3½ hours of national content during primetime. Brazil’s pay TV market is expected to grow 13.3% between 2013 and 2017, per the PwC Global Entertainment and Media Outlook report. This growth is fueled by the increasingly upward mobility of lower and middle socioeconomic classes. Telcos are making major investments to match the trend. In September, leading telco Globosat inked a memo of understanding with Colombian private broadcaster Caracol TV to jointly launch a Spanish-language pay TV channel in the U.S.
Colombia now has the highest pay TV penetration in Latin America according to the Latin American Multichannel Advertising Council. Pay TV shot up 23 percent in the past five years in Colombia where it now reaches 84.4 percent of the TV households, outpacing Argentina’s penetration rate of 83%. Growth is highest among the lower and middle socioeconomic classes that are lured by the plethora of offers and prices in an increasingly competitive market.
Private Colombian TV continues to be dominated by duopoly RCN and Caracol, which launched in 1998.
Both channels have made inroads into the U.S. Hispanic market, especially RCN, which launched MundoFox with Fox Int’l Channels in 2012 and just expanded its reach in New York via Time Warner Cable. RCN has seen a growing demand for its formats in Asia while Europe and the Arab countries are snapping up its series such as “El Capo” and “Second Chances.” Caracol has sold to new territories, including Afghanistan, with its ambitious series “Pablo Escobar, The Drug Lord.”
France’s TV landscape has been shaken up by the launch of Netflix. The service inked its first deal for set-top box distribution with Bouygues Telecom on its launch day, Sept. 15, and could be signing with leading telco company Orange in the coming months. As it aims to build a slate of French-language or locally produced content, Netflix recently ordered its first Gallic show, “Marseille,” a crimer created by Dan Franck, The show is produced by Pascal Breton’s newly launched Federation Entertainment.
The Germans should pay, according to a gaggle of global giants invading the Teutonic territory.
September saw the arrival of Netflix, offering originals like “Orange Is the New Black,” and acquired shows like “Penny Dreadful” (3). CEO Reed Hastings says his aim was to capture a third of households in Germany. But Hastings’ hordes found several other SVOD tribes with powerful parents encamped in the market, such as Amazon’s Prime Instant Video, which boasts “Spartacus,” (4) Sky Deutschland’s Snap, Vivendi’s Watchever and ProSiebenSat.1’s Maxdome. In July, 21st Century Fox-controlled U.K. pay TV operator BSkyB disclosed plans to take over sister companies Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia.
Keshet Intl. is hoping the reality format “Help! I Can’t Cook” (5) will whet buyers’ appetites the same way “Prisoners of War,” and “In Treatment” did. The program, in which A-listers stumble through a culinary academy for kitchen dunces, bowed in Israel on Sept. 13 to a 44% average share, numbers that haven’t been seen since KI’s “Rising Star.” The Unit, a new docu-reality series from ADD about a celeb-staffed army band, marked Israeli TV’s first long-term collaboration with the Israel Defense Forces.
Italy’s top generalist broadcasters, Mediaset and RAI, are both in cutback mode, which will keep their acquisitions conservative, especially for top-drawer U.S. shows, as local skeins continue to command the country’s best primetime ratings. But foreign formats do click, most notably Israel’s “I Can Do That,” a consistent ratings winner on RAI’s flagship RAI 1 channel. In the country’s pay TV field, the big novelty is the stellar success of gritty mob saga “Gomorra” (1) on Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Italia. It’s played well locally and sold globally, spearheading a drive for bolder Italian dramas that can travel. Terrestrial channels are starting to develop scripted product that they hope to export.
In the Middle East, there is a consolidation of the general trend that sees less traction for Hollywood scripted content ever since the Arab Spring. The novelty is the increasing appetite for soccer, especially in the Emirates, as Qatar prepares to host the World Cup in 2022, barring complications. In August, prominent pan-Arab satcaster MBC plunked down almost $1 billion to clinch a 10-year rights deal for the Saudi Arabian Professional League and the King Cup. And in September, MBC launched the third season of smash reality competition series “Arab Idol” (2).
Russia is the world’s seventh-largest market in terms of TV advertising revenue, according to Zenith Optimedia. TV ad revenue was $4.9 billion in 2013 and is forecast to grow by 5% this year. But the sanctions have started to bite. The stock price of leading independent free-to-air network CTC Media sank 6.1% in August. As nationalist feelings run high in Russia, there have been calls to limit the import of foreign shows, and the demand for international product in Russia has already cooled. All but one, CTC, of the top channels are either controlled by the government or by companies with close links to the Kremlin.
A major development was the purchase of free-to-view channel Channel 5 by Viacom, as well as the sale of production giant All3Media to Discovery and John Malone’s Liberty Global, which also owns the U.K.’s leading cabler Virgin Media. Telco BT continues to invest further in its pay TV service, and pay TV operator BSkyB announced plans to merge with its sister companies in Italy and Germany. Commercial network ITV is making steady gains, while ITV recently launched its first pay TV channel, ITV Encore. BSkyB has upped its investment in U.K. production recently, and the extension of tax incentives to high-end TV drama production in the U.K. has spurred activity across the board, with BSkyB, the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 all increasing their investments in bigger-budget shows.