Via Digital pacts for pix with 6 distribs

MADRID — In a large fillip for Spain’s indie distribution sector, Spanish digital operator Via Digital has firmed up package deals with six of the country’s leading distributors: Lauren Films, Sogedasa, Tripictures, Aurum, Araba and Motion Pictures.

The agreements underscore Via Digital’s strategy of accessing top film titles via alliances with local players rather than output deals with the U.S. studios. In contrast, rival digital platform CanalSatelite Digital (CSD) has inked long-term licensing pacts with all the Hollywood studios, save Fox and MGM.

The biggest of Via Digital’s indie deals is its licensing pay TV and pay-per-view rights to 70 recent titles from Antonio Llorens’ Lauren Films, Spain’s top-ranking indie. The licensing period on this and the other agreements is believed to be one year.

The six licensing deals come as all signs suggest that Via Digital and CSD will finally bury the hatchet and share pay-per-view rights to Spanish soccer games. Because of bitter legal wrangles over who owns Spanish PPV soccer rights, neither platform has been screening PPV soccer games this season.

With both players offering their basic packages for just $7 a month, takeup on the platforms has been rapid: CSD has 200,000 subscribers and Via Digital claims 150,000 subscription applications and some 50,000 set-top decoders actually sold.

Both players face the possibility of significant churn when their cut-price offers end, however.

With movies, soccer remains the primary draw for digital TV in a futbol-addled nation.

“We are negotiating, although we have not come to an agreement yet,” Ele Juarez, general manager of Sogecable, which owns CSD, told Daily Variety. “It’s important for business to be able to broadcast PPV soccer.

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