Cable and Content Execs Tout European Growth for American Companies

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David Zaslav

Reporting double-digit improvements during the continent's economic woes, Discovery's David Zaslav, Viacom's Philippe Dauman and Liberty Global's Michael Fries say U.S. TV brands are poised to grow even more when Europe rebounds.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Despite the economic problems in Europe that have slowed overall growth, American entertainment companies with strong content and advanced technology continue to see growth in those markets and are poised to do even better when economies rebound -- at least that was the consensus among panelists at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association convention on Tuesday.

David Zaslav, CEO of Discovery Communications, said they have seen 20 percent growth in the past two years in the troubled Eurozone. “If we continue to grow 20 percent where [a] country's growth is flat … if those economies ever turn we can see really substantial growth," he said.

Philippe Dauman, CEO of Viacom, cited the company's experience in Spain, which has been among the hardest-hit by the Eurozone's problems. “We’re doing well in Spain,” said Dauman, even with much lower market share than in the U.S.

“This is a time to launch new channels and ride the economy when it comes back,” added Dauman. “Meanwhile, the economies in India and Asia are doing well.”

Michael Fries, president and CEO of Liberty Global, said they currently operate in 12 Eurozone countries and have about 12 million customers from some 50 million homes. He said they get 80 percent of their revenue from five of those countries, including the U.K. and Germany.

“We’re selling for €30 full packages [of programming] in Europe,” said Fries. “It's an inexpensive and stable product. I think Europe is going to be fine. It is still very politically stable.”

Fries said in Ireland, another country whose economy has been hammered by the Eurozone crisis, Liberty is doing especially well. “The demand is going nowhere but up,” said Fries. “It defies the larger megatrends.”

Dauman added they also expect to see results improve in the next year as they improve their ability to measure audiences, especially how much they are engaged by the programming and commercials. He said they will use a combination of Nielsen data and newer measurements, as well as what he called first party data -- actual measurements of what people watch.

“That’s going to increase,” said Dauman. “We’re going to work with advertisers who are open to solutions to those issues. It will be an amalgamation of different technologies to reflect consumer engagement.”

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