TPS proves place in big leagues

Pay TV co. made deals with WB, Touchstone

When the lights dim for tonight’s out-of-competition Warner Bros.’ “Matrix Reloaded,” the moment will have a special resonance for execs from Gallic pay TV company TPS.

For a long time Dismissed as Canal Plus’ lesser competitor, TPS has recently made huge strides, nabbing fare from WB — and Disney’s Touchstone — in multi-million-dollar output deals that have subtly shifted the balance of power in the French media biz.

With 1.2 million subscribers TPS is much smaller than Canal Plus, whose premium channel has 4.5 million subscribers and whose digital platform Canal Satellite, boasts 2 million more.

But the company owned by Gallic webs TF1 and M6 now has first or second window output deals with six of seven majors — only Fox is missing.

Philippe Bony, managing director of TPS Cinema, says: “Today we have first pay TV rights on 40%-45% of all Hollywood product, double what we had a year ago, or 60% when you count second window pay TV rights.”

Bony is the first to admit that TPS’ cause has been helped by the ongoing disarray at Canal Plus, which is in the throes of a massive restructuring.

Without disclosing how much TPS paid — estimates place the figure at $30 million — Bony says “the contract was in line with others, it was coherent in the market today.”

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