Daria Bondarenko the senior acquisitions manager at CTC Network in Russia, outlines how the broadcaster is responding to the dramatic changes in Russia television.
How is the television landscape in Russia changing?
Pretty much the same things happening worldwide are also happening in Russia. Put simply, when audiences are provided with new tools, like VoD, it does not make things easy for the TV channels at all. However, ‘old school’ linear broadcasting still holds the leading position here. The majority of Russian people are still in the habit of viewing content on TV screens; it’s mainly audiences over 18 but this gives us some solid numbers. TV still has a lot to offer, including a major selection of U.S. movies – much more than U.S. series.
What has been the impact of pay TV and SVoD in Russia?
Basic cable has become a very sensitive issue since the ‘must carry’ law was implemented. With CTC being one of the leading Russian channels, we have had to think carefully about how we can protect our audience and the product we pay for. Now, we always try to explore the possibility of holdbacks against basic cable.
Regarding digital, we do have our own platforms and ambitious goals to expand the VoD library. We were one of the first channels in Russia to show movies on our website. It’s important for TV broadcasters to have original branded platforms that can offer content online as well as special extras.
How are CTC’s original production plans changing?
We are still focused on family audiences, especially women and children. We are currently working on new shows including scripted ones that bring more positivity into our audience’s lives.
CTC has a line-up of shows that keep running for several seasons and bring solid results. These are all original productions and most are sitcoms or half-hour comedies as this is a central part of our schedule. Among our originals are Voroniny, based on Everybody Loves Raymond, which started in 2009; Hotel Eleon, with its third season arriving soon; and Junior League, a one-hour original drama series about young hockey players that goes into its fifth season this fall.
What international formats has CTC acquired recently?
We are not afraid to experiment. The last international format we acquired was Gogglebox [from All3Media]. This is a unique show for Russia but it’s always worth trying something new.
What is the role of acquired programming on CTC?
We still focus on acquired movies as we have our daily 21.00 movie slot. Our viewers know that if they want the latest Hollywood blockbuster or classic film they need to switch on to CTC at 21.00.
On the international side, we mainly focus on movies that we get from major studios and independent distributors. Besides that, we did a remarkable multi-year deal with DreamWorks Animation [DWA] for its animated series. In addition to DWA features, we get animated series inspired by those films such as Dragons, All Hail King Julien, Adventures of Puss in Boots, Dawn of the Croods and The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show.
What is your international co-production strategy?
We are very interested in co-productions and we are investigating opportunities with international markets including Europe, China, and the U.S. We are open to exploring possibilities, and we believe that progress comes with a team play. And when it’s an international team, it’s even greater. Besides co-production, we also keep our brand growing locally with merchandising deals based on our shows. This expands our brand presence in the entire market.
What content are you looking to acquire for next season?
Feature films are still required. We always keep an eye on fresh ideas, entertainment shows, comedies – everything that can be defined as family-friendly programming. CTC has been known as the home of entertainment; the channel covers the entire family, so even the youngest viewer can enjoy it to the fullest.
What are CTC’s plans for international growth?
We do carry international versions of our Russian-language channels on a non-exclusive basis on cable platforms worldwide. The key idea of the company is securing leading positions in Russia, but also to expand our international presence, not just through distribution but by co-production and other opportunities that are currently being investigated.
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This letter was originally featured in the official NATPE Budapest Global TV Market & Conference Market Guide, powered by C21 Media.