ROME — In a clear signal that Italy’s TV market is evolving in the digital era, Switchover Media, known as a top kiddie outfit, will start playing with the big boys, launching a new channel on May 14 aimed at a wider age-range and packed with Hollywood shows, in a prelude to further expansion and fiercer competition with local incumbents.

Called Giallo, the new Italo station will offer a broad mix of thriller/crime library product acquired from the U.S. majors, comprising titles such as Paramount’s “Blind Justice” and “Keen Eddie,” “E-Ring” from Warner Bros. Television, MCA/Universal’s “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and Fox’s “The Practice.”

Unlike in the U.S., where Giallo is synonymous with Italian slasher pics, in Italy the word, which literally means yellow, covers a wide range of genres.

“Those who know the term ‘Giallo’ in Italian know what type of audience we are catering to,” said Switchover Media managing director Francesco Nespega, specifying that “it comprises thriller, legal, medical and investigative drama.”

Francesco Salini, the former Fox Italy Entertainment topper, who is now spearheading Switchover’s expansion, calls it “a broad genre, appreciated especially by women” in Italy, where femme consumers account for about 50% of the advertising market.

“Our goal is to build a coherent brand by selecting the right mix of product, rather than thanks to a single show,” Salini added.

Switchover also expects to launch another new channel: a factual, more male-skewed, station bows in June.

Switchover Media operates highly successful kiddie channels K2 and Frisbee on DTT and provides GXT to Sky Italia.

“Digital terrestrial has opened up new opportunities,” said Nespega.

“The basic idea is that to capture the millions of Italians who tune in to DTT we are trying to create a system of complementary channels with distinctive identities, but also wider ranges than the niche channels that play on pay TV.