Digital players map futures

Onda lifts curtain on purchase plans

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain — Lifting the shroud of mystery surrounding Spain’s newest media player, digital terrestrial television operator Onda Digital has unveiled significant details about its growth and acquisitions strategy.

Onda general manager Ildefonso de Miguel, who took the position this summer, said the digital terrestial TV operator will spend some $245 million on content acquisition over its first year and a total of $1.8 billion on product over the next 10 years.

Mipcom moves

Onda will dig into its cavernous pockets for product at the upcoming Mipcom TV market, where its content focus looks to be U.S. studios. The company aims to talk with studios at Cannes with the idea of closing deals almost immediately.

“We’re looking to sign our first deals in October and more at the end of November or in early December,” said Gino Natalicchio, Onda’s recently named director of programming, content and interactive services.

“We’re searching for firstrun movies for pay-per-view as well as already packaged channels,” he added.

Controlled by Spanish telco Retevision (49%), Onda will launch some 14 channels Nov. 15, making it one of Europe’s first-to-bow digital terrestrial TV operators. Spain already has two direct-to-home digital operators, Canal Satelite Digital (CSD), with some 745,000 subs, and Via Digital, which has some 330,000 clients.

De Miguel told Daily Variety that Onda’s channel spread will include two to three pay-per-view channels and another 11 to 12 channels that will mix stripped shows with movies, music, docus, sports and series.

Stockholder pipelines

Onda also will be able to access content of its shareholders, themselves important rights brokers, such as Spain’s Media Park (15%) and Grupo Planeta (10%), the U.K.’s Carlton (7.5%) and a rights-brokering operation planned by Retevision’s core owners, Italy’s Telecom Italia, and Spanish electricity companies Endesa and Union Fenosa.

Onda also aims to buy some soccer rights from owners such Audiovisual Sport.

“The launch of Onda Digital represents an enormous opportunity for the contents industry, principally contents already in Spanish,” De Miguel said.