AMC/Sundance Channel Plans Central, Eastern Europe Expansion

Strategies are focused on Poland, Hungary and Romania, but the company is eyeing other countries as well.

DUBROVNIK, CROATIA – Despite having to deal with regional differences and fragmented markets, AMC/Sundance Channel Global plans to expand in Central and Eastern Europe.

"[Sundance Channel] has been expanding quite dramatically throughout this region," Bruce Tuchman, president of AMC/Sundance Channel Global, told The Hollywood Reporter at New Europe Market in Dubrovnik, Croatia. "This region is very important to us."

He added that at the moment expansion is focused on the markets where Sundance Channel is already present, such as Poland, Hungary and Romania, but also considers opportunities in Russia, where Chellomedia, one of AMC's assets, has a presence.

Meanwhile, operating in the Central and Eastern European market may be challenging, Tuchman said. "The biggest challenges are that there remains a lot of fragmentation, the economies to varying degrees are still trying to get a good footing, and there are a lot of differences between the countries that add layers to economics," he said.

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"Obviously adding different languages and versioning all your programming appropriately for each market adds costs," he went on to say. "In the United States, we have 100 million homes who take their programming virtually all in English, and that presents a great economy of scale. When you have to make so many versions for smaller markets, sometimes it's a challenge."

Fragmentation is another big issue for the markets in Central and Eastern Europe. "Many of these markets have not consolidated to the same degree as you find in the U.S. In markets like Poland, despite having some big offerings, there are many, many small offerings," Tuchman said. "These markets have yet to fully deploy HD broadcasts, digital or face the competitive pressures of fully deployed OTT platforms like Netflix."

According to Tuchman, Sundance Channel is also looking closely at European content that could be marketed elsewhere. "We have bought TV series from places other than the U.S.," he said. "For instance, we're showing in the first window Borgen from Scandinavia in Latin America." He added that the channel will investigate opportunities for locally produced content in Central and Eastern Europe as well.