Italy: Mediaset ramps up pay packages

Mip Territory Reports

ROME — The big novelty in Italy’s TV landscape is Mediaset’s recent foray into pay TV, fueled by massive multiyear volume deals with Warner Bros. and Universal.

In January, the top Italian commercial broadcaster, owned by Silvio Berlusconi, unveiled its Premium Gallery offering, beamed on digital terrestrial television and breaking Rupert Murdoch’s monopoly on Italian pay TV.

Mediaset’s pay platform is only three channels, a small fraction of Murdoch satcaster Sky Italia’s ample package. But they are packed with a rich mix of hot Hollywood movies such as “Ocean’s Thirteen” and “300,” and series such as “House,” “ER,” “Law & Order” and “The OC.”

Due to Mediaset’s aggressive move, Sky Italia’s shelves are now a bit understocked, and Mediaset’s terrestrial rival pubcaster RAI is also feeling the pinch. So both webs will have a hearty appetite for product at Mip, while Mediaset, which is making “content-driven” its mantra, still has room for more.

As for what’s been working with Italian auds, their tastes remain pretty unvaried. “House” and “Grey’s Anatomy” still rule the roost on Mediaset, while “Desperate Housewives” is doing only decently on RAI.

Domestic fiction continues to be the real Italian primetime ratings magnet, having long ousted most Hollywood fare from these slots. The most-talked-about hit series of the season is Mediaset’s “I Cesaroni,” which is based on Spanish format “Los Serrano,” revolving around a couple, each with another marriage behind them and a total five children from their previous relationships.

The biggest flop of the year so far has been the Sanremo Song Fest, for decades an unrivaled ratings champ, which this year got beat by “I Cesaroni” on one night.

Meanwhile, both RAI and Mediaset are exporting more. RAI just sold Sicily-set “Inspector Montalbano” to a slew of territories, while Mediaset is doing lots of biz with its “CSI” clone, “RIS.”

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