Russian TV audiences finding their niche

Report says digital technology driving the trend

MOSCOW -- Niche TV channels are on the rise in Russia, according to data published Monday from the research project TV Index Plus.

From April 2007-July 2008, the proportion of city residents who watched at least one niche channel increased from 33.5% to 45.5%.

The development of niche channels is driven in part by the recent spread of digital technology in television, which allows consumers to receive more channels, Maria Kamenskaya, head of the niche channel department at TNS Russia, told the business newspaper RBC Daily.

"And the governmental program of a complete switch to digital television by 2015 shows authorities' support for that process," she added.

According to Kamenskaya, another factor pushing the development of niche channels broadcast via cable and satellite is recently adopted restrictions on advertisements on federal free-to-air channels, which prompts advertisers to look more closely at niche channels.

Among the most successful Russian niche channels are O2 and A1, focused on music, cartoon channel 2x2 and the local version of the Discovery Channel.