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Disney Channel now free-to-air in Spain

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Disney Channel now free-to-air in Spain
« on: May 28, 2008, 07:19:44 PM »
Disney: No plans to make UK channel free-to-air

Disney is making its Spanish kids' TV channel free to air - a first among the 27 Disney Channels worldwide - but says it has no plans to ditch the pay-TV model in the UK.

The US entertainment giant announced today that Disney Channel Spain will launch on free digital terrestrial TV on July 1, after 10 years in the country as a pay cable channel.

Disney Channel in Spain will shift from carrying no commercials to become ad-supported, and it joins the DTT service as Spain gears up for a switch from analogue terrestrial TV in Spring 2010.

John Hardie, head of the Disney Channels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said the move to DTT mirrors a push for bigger audiences, which in turn will deliver bigger brand awareness, a new stream of advertising revenues and higher sales of spin-off merchandising such as High School Musical CDs and Hannah Montana paraphernalia.

"There is currently 32% penetration of DTT [in Spain]. There is a target to do analogue switchover in just two years' time," Hardie said.

"The prospect that within a three-year period Disney Channel could be in 100% of Spanish homes is a very powerful prospect for us."

He predicted that Disney Channel Spain would go from being in 2 million households now to more than 6 million on July 1 thanks to its availability on DTT, satellite, cable and internet TV.

"Over the next three years, we think we can go from 6m to 14m households," Hardie added.

But he said the Spanish free-to-air move should not be seen as the start of a roll-out programme for ad-supported models elsewhere in Europe, particularly the UK, where the paid-for Disney Channel is already in 9 million homes.

"We are adjusting our model to suit the market conditions we find," Hardie said.

"We start with the very clear objective of maximising the reach of the Disney Channel, but always in a business sensible way. We will take each market in turn and it's a little bit horses for courses.

"In different markets we find different situations. In the UK there is a well developed pay market so we decided to stick to a model there of basic subscription.

"In Spain we saw the growth of DTT seemed to be accelerating much faster than the growth in the pay-TV market so we decided to change the business model here."


In the UK the channel was recently downgraded from needing a separate pay subscription to being available in the general Kids package on Sky, still with no adverts (other than for Disney products).

There's also a proposal from Sky called Picnic, to put the UK Disney Channel on our Freeview via a new subscription service where they'd replace Sky News, Sky Sports News and Sky Three with several premium channels. I think it's delayed though.

It's a big move, hopefully it'll pay off - Spain just recently discovered DLRP, so it's a good step for general Disney awareness.
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