Russian TV Networks Join Forces to Extract Better Hollywood Content Deals

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CTC Media, NMG and YuTV hope that by pacting they will negotiate lower prices from Hollywood majors.

By joining forces in acquiring Hollywood content, major Russian TV networks CTC Media, National Media Group (NMG) and YuTV hope to get better deals from the likes of Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures.

The networks are creating a joint acquisition structure, which is to become the biggest in Russia, allowing them to negotiate lower prices with Hollywood majors, Russian business daily Kommersant reported Monday.

Thanks to consolidation, a large package of Hollywood content will be acquired and later aired on all the networks.

Since the economic downturn hit Russia in 2014, leading to a sharp devaluation of the national currency, the ruble, against the U.S. dollar, many Russian TV networks have cut back on acquisition of foreign TV content.

However, competition from pay-TV is pushing major federal free-to-air networks to look for ways to air more Hollywood content.

National Media Group, which is owned by President Vladimir Putin's longtime ally Yury Kovalchuk, runs REN and Channel Five networks, and CTC Media's networks include CTC, Domashny, Che and CTC Love.

Russian networks don't normally disclose their spending on acquisition of foreign TV content, but, according to Kommersant, the figure ranges from $2 million to $20 million a year, depending on the size of the network.