Russia's CTC Acquires HBO Series, Including 'Westworld'

Evan Rachel Wood - Westworld Still - H 2016

The package also includes 'Strike Back' and 'The Knick' as HBO licenses its content in the country beyond REN TV.

As Russian TV networks compete with each other for Hollywood and other Western TV content, major TV group CTC Media has struck an exclusive deal with HBO, under which it is acquiring a number of series, including Westworld and The Knick, for its network Che.

"It is about the acquisition of exclusive rights for a number of HBO series," Vyacheslav Murugov, CEO of CTC Media, told The Hollywood Reporter. "Che will continue to introduce viewers to the best foreign series, which is part of the network's new strategy."

According to Murugov, for that purpose, Che will launch a new time slot, dubbed "Bolshoy Serial," or "The Big Series," to step up foreign TV series airing. Recently, the network aired the likes of Breaking Bad and Lilyhammer and Mr Robot is currently airing.

The new deal is CTC Media's first-ever licensing agreement with HBO. Previously, only REN TV, which is part of National Media Group (NMG), has licensed HBO content in Russia. Since 2012, it has been airing Game of Thrones.

Over the last few years, Western TV series have been very popular with Russian viewers, and local networks have been stepping up the share of that type of content to lure viewers away from online video services, which have been offering it.

CTC Media recently also acquired the controversial series The Young Pope to air on Che around Easter.

Incidentally, earlier this month, CTC Media, National Media Group (NMG) and YuTV said they would be joining forces in acquiring Hollywood content in a hope to get better deals from Hollywood majors and US television networks.

Over the last few years, HBO has been stepping up licensing of its content to foreign networks.