America's TV reaches outside its borders, fuels growth.

Author:Blatter, Lucy Cohen
Position:U.S. International Channels
 
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As any traveler who's spent time flipping channels in a foreign hotel knows, U.S. TV brands are everywhere and come in many different languages. Thanks to a plethora of well-known series, movies, and brands originating from the U.S., there seems to be an almost insatiable desire for American TV brands throughout the world. And judging from the industry's growth and the investments some companies are making, TV globalization is here to stay.

Last year, NBC Universal chief executive Jeff Zucker publicly stressed a desire to expand NBC's international channels business. Zucker was quoted in the International Herald Tribune saying he wanted to nearly double his company's foreign revenue by 2010, lifting it to $5 billion, or 30 percent of the media company's total revenue, from 18 percent in 2006.

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The company worked toward that goal by acquiring U.K.-based Sparrowhawk Media (for a reported $350 million), which reaches 60 million subscribers in 152 countries.

Experts say NBC made these moves to catch up with the other studios, where foreign revenue hovers somewhere around 18-23 percent of their overall intake. Those profits comes from a two-tier model: subscription and advertising.

One studio that is now poised to enter the international channel marketplace in a big way is CBS Paramount International Television. The company lost the bulk of its channel assets during the CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc. split. Now, CBS executives are exploring which brands to utilize, and which genres to focus on when its channels go global. With over 70,000 hours of programming in its catalogue, the possibilities seem endless.

"We're in the advanced planning stages with potential partners on virtually every continent," said Reed Manville, president of Manville Media Consulting, who's been brought oil to lead the CBS-Paramount expansion project. "With so many hours of programming, and so many catalogues to chose from--we have rights to the Showtime, King World and Paramount programs--we can be broad or very narrow when it comes to genres."

One company that's "already proved itself a major player in the international channels business is Sony, which reaches international destinations with its Sony Entertainment Television (SET), AXN, and Animax channels, among others. According to its president of International Networks, Andy Kaplan, for "Sony Pictures Entertainment, [the international channel business] is becoming more and more important," he said.

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