Competition is hotting up in the Brazilian free TV market with number two broadcaster SBT taking on leading station Globo by launching a prime-time film slot on Friday evenings, to be fed with product from its recently-signed output deals with Warner Bros and Disney.
The slot will be in addition to SBT's Thursday evening prime-time film slot. SBT wrapped up separate output deals with Warner and Disney in December which gives it access to more than 1,000 movies including such titles as Ace Ventura, Con Air and Phenomenon as well as TV series such as The Sopranos and Mortal Kombat.
Altogether, SBT is investing $200m over five years in beefing up its schedules and in technological improvements, in a bid to match rival Globo's annual ($1.1bn) real1.9bn turnover. SBT's turnover was real480m for 1999 and is forecast to reach real600m in 2000.
But although SBT aims to target a more upmarket audience it is also staying true to its roots by investing in popular programming. The company has formed a partnership with Mexico's Televisa to produce soap operas developed by Televisa and performed by Brazilian actors. Both companies will share profits from international sales, although final terms of the deal have yet to be settled.
Meanwhile TV Globo is in talks with the US' Telemundo about a joint venture to produce programming aimed at Spanish-speaking audiences in both Latin America and the US.
Increased competition comes at a time when Brazil's TV market is also undergoing political changes. The Brazilian Congress is scheduled to vote next month on legislation that would allow foreign companies to invest in local media entities, up to a limit of 30% of voting capital. Companies that have already shown interest in investing in Brazilian TV include Sony, Televisa and Venezuela's Cisneros.