Viacom International Unveils Paramount Channel

The new 24-hour free-to-air movie network will launch first in Spain.

MADRID - Viacom International Media Networks unveiled its newest product Tuesday, Paramount Channel, a free-to-air, 24-hour movie channel that will premiere worldwide in Spain this week.

"We are making Viacom history with the launch of the first Paramount Channel ever. The channel is a major move for our company and a significant step in expanding our portfolio," VIMN President and CEO Robert Bakish said at Tuesday's presentation. "It enables us to serve not only kids and youth, via our successful Nickelodeon and MTV brands, but to access adults."

The channel launches Friday thanks to a pact with Spanish media conglomerate Vocento, which owns the TDT license and folded its own family-oriented TV channel La 10 in January.

Bakish highlighted that the new channel, which will screen 50% of its content from Paramount Pictures, will also offer third party content from Sony, Warner and other studios---in addition to Spanish independents like Tripictures, part of the Vocento-controlled production-distribution holding Veralia.

Programming, which will kick off with The Godfather, will feature 600 titles a year in nine genres, 11 movies a day, four premieres each week and weave in documentaries and behind-the scenes looks.

Citing Viacom's successful brands in Spain and the Spanish appetite for movies, Raffaele Annechino, Senior VP of VIMN Iberia, said Spain was only the first of many markets that would see the new channel launch.

"Not only are our brands well known here and very successful, but there is a very high demand for movies on television," VIMN Executive VP of Music Brands Antonio Campo Dall'Orto said. "Higher than in other countries and while the economic situation is tough, we are confident that Spain will be strong again economically and we're investing here."

Both Annechino and Bakish declined to say how many or which countries would be next to see Paramount Channel launch.

Annechino said Paramount's goal was a 2% market share for the first 24 months.

Paramount Channel will go head-to-head with La Sexta 3, which launched in February 2011 and boasts 1.4% of the audience with a free-to-air TV service specialized in movies in Spain. The ad-supported channel will start with two "short" commercial blocks per hour, according to Annechino.

Classics like Breakfast at Tiffany's, What a Wonderful Life and All the President's Men will mix with Jade, Spy Kids 3, Mr. Jones, Fatal Attaction, The Age of Innocence, The Legend of the Drunken Master and There Will Be Blood.

Viacom's MTV moved to free-to-air last year in Spain, also using one of Vocento's four nationwide licenses. Disney Channel operates on another of Vocento's licenses since 2008.