MADRID — Hollywood studios are continuing to exploit digital TV opportunities in Europe.
Exhibit A: Paramount Channel. The Spanish digital terrestrial TV service has just celebrated its first anniversary hitting three highs: Its biggest monthly market share in Spain (1.3% in March), its highest daily performance (March 30, 2.3%), and its best movie result (3.3% and 606,117 viewers for golden oldie “Escape From Alcatraz,” pictured above).
In international markets, Hollywood studios’ core business remains licensing content in exclusive multi-year product deals and launching branded channels on pay TV.
But the majors work individual territories on a “case-by-case” basis,” said Guy Bisson at IHS Screen Digest.
“Every major U.S. Group is looking at opportunities around free to air,” he added.
“In countries where DTT is a large enough platform and pay TV small — so the risks of cannibalizing a core pay TV business is low — where the opportunities present themselves, the studios may take them on DTT.”
That is more the case in Spain than the other big five European countries. DTT reaches almost 100% of households but pay TV languishes. The country’s biggest operator, Canal Plus, has just 1.7 million subs.
Canal Plus already carries MTV Hits, Paramount Comedy, kids’ offer Nick, music channels VH1 and VH1 Classics, all owned by Paramount Channel parent, Viacom. MTV Espana is offered on DTT.
On DTT, Paramount Channel has strong viewer reach, powerful brand positioning and the chance to exploit Paramount’s vast library.
Paramount Channel hit its March 30 high airing its five most-watched new movies of the year: Ben Affleck’s “Gone Baby, Gone,” which punched a 3.0% share, “What a Girl Wants,” “Assassination,” “Death Wish 3” and “Kickboxer,” said Raffaele Annecchino, managing director, South Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Viacom Intl. Media Network.
Around 38 million viewers, 88% of Spaniards, have tuned into Paramount Channel, which offers more than 200 movies from Par’s picture library per year, he added.
Spanish TV advertising plunged 19% to €1.8 billion ($2.3 billion) in 2012, though Paramount Channel has a 1.4% share in the advertiser-prized 25-55 target.
When Spain’s TV ad market returns, however, Paramount Channel aims to command a bigger slice of a larger pie.
Viacom Intl. will launch a Paramount Channel app for mobile devices and acquire Spanish library titles, Annecchino said.
“We are proud of the success that the Paramount Channel in Spain has achieved in its first year, as it reflects the strong connection that viewers have with the content and brand as well as reinforcing our focus on global expansion,” said Bob Bakish, VIMN president-CEO.
Bakish added VIMN plans to introduce the Paramount Channel into other markets and will announce more details soon.
Emiliano de Pablos contributed to this report