Dis-ABC spread VOD magic in Poland, Finland



CANNES -- Disney-ABC International is spreading its magic in Poland and Finland with VOD deals for U.S. series soon after their original airings in the U.S.

Disney-ABC International Television has inked a deal with Orange in Poland making all of its new series available to Polish viewers just 24 hours after the original U.S. broadcast, Orange said Tuesday in Cannes.

The move comes as day-and-date availability of U.S. series is becoming increasingly on demand in European countries. "It's in the best interest of the American studios if they want to fight piracy," Orange's senior vp content Herve Payan said.

Disney-ABC and Finland's Channel 4 have teamed up to bring hit U.S. series to Finnish TV screens just four days after the U.S. broadcast.

The IPTV VOD rental agreement will allow fans to catch the latest episodes of "Ugly Betty," "Grey's Anatomy," "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" from a special area on Channel 4 Finland's Web site called "Hot from the U.S." for €3 ($4.21) each.

"This is an exciting opportunity for fans to legally access some of the most-anticipated shows on international TV and demonstrates our commitment to work with digital media partners to bring our content to viewers in faster, flexible ways, when and where they want it," said Jim Brehm, senior vp sales at Disney-ABC International Television.

The deal follows NBC Universal's recent offer with French network TF1 to air "Heroes" on its VOD site just 24 hours after the original stateside broadcast, and Orange anticipates similar deals with other U.S. studios in the coming months.

Orange plans to offer the series free of charge in English with automatic subtitling in order to combat piracy.

However, Payan added: "We need to share advertising revenue with the studios. We need to create an economic model so that the profits come back to the studios."

Channel 4 Finland's senior vp Pirjo Airaksinen also has high hopes for the move against illegal Internet downloading in Europe.

"Channel 4 Finland is enthusiastic to learn how Finnish consumers will accept the new service, and at the same time we're eager to fight piracy," he said. However, he added, "It's an alternative, but it's still not good enough."