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Disney to test free TV scheme in Spain

29 мая 2008

The Disney Channel, which has launched franchises from Hannah Montana to Camp Rock, will be available free-to-air for the first time under an experiment in Spain that could herald a new business model for the Walt Disney property.

Disney has attributed much of the rapid international growth of its core television franchise to an earlier decision to turn it from a premium channel into part of basic cable and satellite subscription services across Europe, expanding its reach.

The decision to go a step further in Spain reflects the rapid growth of digital terrestrial television (DTT) in the market, which is expected to complete its switchover from analogue to digital broadcast signals by 2010, two years ahead of some other large European markets such as the UK.

Disney had made the choice for the Spanish market because of the relatively high penetration of subscription and DTT platforms, said John Hardie, managing director for Disney’s channels across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

“In this market the balance seems to be leaning more towards free TV, at least in the next five years,” he said.

The move will provide a significant boost to TDT, Spain’s marketing body for digital terrestrial television.

Even in more developed DTT markets such as France and the UK, equivalent platforms have been dominated by terrestrial broadcasters’ spin-off digital channels, shopping channels such as QVC and specialists such as Teachers TV.

It could also give Disney access to seven times as many viewers. “Today we are in 2m households, by this summer we will be north of 6m and in two or three years we will be in all 14m homes in Spain,” Mr Hardie said. The 100 per cent penetration Disney Channel is targeting in Spain would exceed its 90 per cent reach in the US.

Mr Hardie was wary of predicting that the model would be copied elsewhere, but would not rule it out.

Disney expected its Spanish portfolio to be profitable within a year of changing the Disney Channel business model, he said.

In Spain, where Playhouse Disney and Toon Disney will remain pay-TV channels, it has joined forces with Atres Advertising, the Antena 3 subsidiary, to manage its advertising sales under strict guidelines about what advertising is acceptable to the channel’s young audience.

The Spanish channel is largely filled with dubbed versions of US properties such as High School Musical and Phineas & Farb, but Disney has commissioned local productions of short-form programmes.

Источник: Financial Times

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