Warners inks deal with Russia's TNT

Pact will give b'caster access to recent movies, TV series

Warner Bros. has inked a two-year programming volume deal with Russia's TNT that will give that broadcaster access to movies and TV series from the studio.

The pact with the international unit of the Hollywood major will give TNT the Russian free TV rights to newish pics including "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," "The Hangover" and "Sherlock Holmes"; freshman dramas including "V" and "The Vampire Diaries" as well as programs from the upcoming 2010-11 season. As usual with such agreements, the deal encompasses previously released films and TV shows from the Warner Bros. Entertainment collection as well as animated fare for the launch of a Warner Bros.–branded animation block in that territory.

"We are pleased to begin this new relationship with TNT Broadcasting Network to deliver our world-class films, television series and animated titles to viewers throughout Russia in primetime," said Jeffrey Schlesinger, Warner Bros. International TV president. He also pointed out that TNT's younger-skewing audience profile is "a great fit" for the studio's content.

The deal was put together with the head of TNT Roman Petrenko.

There were no details as to the value or precise size of the deal, though most such arrangements involve dozens of movies and several hundred hours of TV programming.

As for the moolah, over the past decade Russia's TV buyers have stepped up to pay sizable amounts for A-tier Yank product, and the country is now edging its way into the top 10 most lucrative territories for Hollywood suppliers. One stateside source unrelated to Warner Bros. suggested such a deal would be worth "many tens of millions" over a 24-month period, but added that without knowing all the content pieces it would be impossible to zoom in more precisely on price.

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"Warner Bros. consistently has one of the strongest movie slates as well as hit TV series. Combined with our top-rated original TV programs, the deal will create a strong foundation for the growth of TNT Broadcasting Network's market share," Petrenko said.

As one of Russia's top 5 networks, TNT reaches a potential audience of 100 million viewers and concentrates on the younger demos.
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