WWF putting hammerlock on Europe with pay pacts

Canal Plus, Premiere World join BSkyB in carrying PPV

CANNES — Parlez-vous “The Rock”?

In another bid to bulk up its overseas cred, World Wrestling Federation Entertainment has struck a multi-million-dollar deal to bring its brand of grappling to France via leading satcaster Canal Plus. WWF is also pumping up its presence in Germany, pacting with German feevee outlet Premiere World, a unit of KirchGruppe.

Deals, announced Monday at the annual MIP TV international confab here, follow WWFE’s recent agreement with BSkyB in the U.K.

“These are important deals for the WWFE and our programming is now firmly re-established in continental Europe,” said Andrew Whitaker, senior veepee of international TV, WWFE. “This is a tremendous vote of confidence in the WWF brand and entertainment medium by the largest pay TV companies in Europe, and I can confidently say our company is making substantial progress as a global TV player.”

Canal Plus has pinned down 130 hours of WWF carnage to be broadcast over two years. Properties include the weekly skein “WWF SuperStars” and replays of specs such as “Wrestlemania” and “Survivor Series.” Not included: the WWF’s U.S. showcase skeins “Smackdown” and “Raw.”

Meanwhile, Premiere World has picked up the skeins “WWF Metal,” “WWF SuperStars,” “WWF Heat,” seven specials and library programming. All told, the WWFE deal will provide 520 hours of programming over three years.

WWF’s “Smackdown” and “Raw” already air on the national terrestrial/cable outlet TM3 in Germany. TM3 also airs special events such as “WrestleMania,” “Summerslam” and “King of the Ring.”

WWFE’s deal with Canal Plus was hammered out with London’s Media Content, which serves as the WWFE’s TV agent in some European markets.

The company’s pact with Premiere World was handled by Munich-based EM.TV & Merchandising.

(Michael Schneider in Los Angeles contributed to this report.)

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