Canal Plus snaps up slew of U.S. series



CANNES -- Canal Plus has snapped up a horde of new U.S. series set to air on the network in the coming months.

The Gallic broadcaster picked up ABC dramas "Dirty Sexy Money" and "The Reaper," FX's "Damages" and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," NBC's recent Emmy winner "30 Rock" and CW sitcom "Aliens in America."

"We're going back to more audience-friendly programming geared toward young adults," Sandra Ouaiss, Canal Plus' head of acquisitions of foreign series, said in an interview.

Fresh off its recent U.S. premiere, "Money" is set to air during primetime on the network in the first half of 2008.

"We're trying to reduce the time between broadcasts of U.S. series in France. We can't possibly be in real time, that's evident, but we're very conscious of this in our programming plans," Ouaiss said.

With a $9 million pilot and a promising 10 million viewers for its first episode stateside, Canal Plus has high hopes for the nighttime soap mystery series about a benevolent lawyer forced to take care of one of New York's wealthiest families.

Canal Plus is also expecting strong results for its recently acquired comedies set to air in a "primetime access" slot at 6:30 p.m. "The trend this year is definitely lighter fare. There's a more sober wave in the fiction domain," Ouaiss said.

The network's focus on acquisitions catering to young adults comes just before the launch of Canal Plus Family, a new family-oriented channel as part of the group's principal pay TV package, on Oct. 20.

All of Canal Plus' programs will be available on a new Canal Plus on Demand service set to launch before the end of the year.

With the new "Catch Up TV" offer, all programs airing on Canal Plus will be accessible via Internet, ADSL and TV to Canal subscribers.

While the "Catch Up TV" offer marks a step to combat piracy, Ouaiss admits that early illegal downloads for upcoming series aren't necessarily detrimental to the eventual health of the show in France. "Blogs and Web sites allow us to create early buzz for certain series," she said.