TPS starts its own ‘premium’ channel
Sotires Eleftheriou Paris
TPS is to launch a number of new channels over the next few months. At a press conference signaling the end of the summer break the second digital DTH platform did not specify the number, but said it was comparable with the 14 announced by Canal Satellite.
TPS is concentrating its efforts on one new channel in particular: TPS Star, to launch on September 19, concentrating on recent films (40 recent or TV first runs a month), many getting their first TV airing along with the ‘extras’ that are generally included on DVD releases. Exclusive sports with full coverage of first division football (34 exclusive matches) as well as magazine programmes on football and cinema, hosted by prominent personalities such as the captain of the French football team and presenters poached from Canal+ are also a part of the mix.
The formula bears more than a passing resemblance to the successful Canal+ and comes just as Canal has restructured its programme schedules, slashing the budget of the free-to- air windows to concentrate on the pay portions. To stress the point, TPS is putting TPS Star at channel 4 in its numbering, the number that is generally given to Canal+ on TV sets. The budget was not disclosed, but Jacques Espinasse, Director-General of TPS, said that it is “three or four times the budget of the best cable and satellite channels, not including terrestrial channels.” TPS aims to get the channel very rapidly into the top ten of pay-TV channels by audience share. The channel will be available at no extra cost to all TPS subscribers except those on the lowest cost packages, ie the 88 per cent of subscribers paying FFr140 a month or more (plus FFr45 decoder rental). The channel is described as a “true premium channel, expected to strengthen the TPS mark.”
TPS now has 1,040,000 DTH plus 175,000 cable subscribers, compared to 717,000 and 80,000 respectively in September 1999, an increase of 50 per cent in two years. TPS expects to break even sometime in 2003. It already has a positive EBITDA.
The Loft Story phenomenon has been a driving force for subscriptions although it is difficult to evaluate to what extent. This was a separate optional channel that broadcast the feed from M6’s Big Brother-style programme. 125,000 subscribers took out the FFr70 option for the two-month duration of the programme, about 10 per cent of the total subscriber base. If subscriber growth were uniform over the two years we would expect 18,000 new subscribers during the period, of which 10 per cent would take Loft Story. However, 11,000 new subscribers took out simultaneous subscriptions to the Loft Story option. Accordingly, it can be supposed that around 9,000 new subscribers are directly attributable to Loft Story.
Interactive services now number 250, with betting on horse racing the most lucrative. 19,000 accounts have now been opened, bringing in FFr135 million.
- Russian financier Boris Berezovskiy has said that he has no plans to withdraw from his Russian media interests. Berezovskiy said he had not sold his shares in TV-6 channel, or Kommersant, Nezavisimaya Gazeta or Novyie Izvestiya newspapers. He complained, however, of being pressured to sell them, in particular in Novyie Izvestiya. Asked whether he is sure that the money invested in the overhaul of TV-6 would be put to effective use, Berezovskiy said that his trust in the channels team headed by Director-General Yevgeniy Kiselyov is absolute and that the goal they had agreed on will be achieved. A certain amount of money needed to make the channel a national one was appropriated and a deadline for the goal was set, he said.
TPS subscription packages
TPS Thema comprising all the thematic channels except movies and football, FFr115 a month.
TPS Cinema-Football Four movie channels plus TPS Star. This package replaces TPS Cinema which was priced at FFr115 francs a month, with the addition of the new TPS star channel, FFr140 a month.
TPS Optima, comprising TPS Thema+ TPS Cinema-Football, FFr165 a month.
TPS Cinema-Football + TPS Superstades, FFr189 a month
TPS Maxima FFr199 a month.
Autumn special offer: TPS Maxima for FFr89 a month for the first four months of any one year subscription.
Decoder rental is an additional FFr45 a month. The dish is supplied free.