Declining advertising revenue and challenging times for pay-TV broadcasters have barely dented the sales prowess of Buena Vista International Television, the division responsible for selling feature films to TV and making and selling TV programming.
The company used the MIPCOM programmes market in Cannes to unveil a raft of new output, package and channel deals with broadcasters around the world. "Things are more positive than they look," said David Hulbert, president of Walt Disney Television International. "The underlying economics of this industry are pretty damn good,"
Deals announced included:
* A multi-year free-TV deal with Television New Zealand covering features, network series, animated series, TV movies and specials. Features include Sweet Home Alabama, Spy Kids 2 and Reign Of Fire.
* A multi-year agreement with Media Corporation (Mediacorp) of Singapore for features, network series, animated series, TV movies and specials. Film titles cited include Pearl Harbor, 102 Dalmations and Reign Of Fire.
* A pay-TV and pay-per-view (PPV) deal with French platform TPS covering major theatrical releases. The deal gives TPS 12 features including 102 Dalmations and Pearl Harbor which is followed by a five-year second position pay-TV window for forthcoming BVI-TV features. A five-year PPV agreement begins immediately.
* The rival Canalsatelite platform will become only the third carrier in Europe to offer the "Disney multiplex" consisting of the timeshift channel Disney Channel +1 and the Playhouse Disney and Toon Disney channels. Canalsatellite already carries the classic Disney Channel.
* In troubled Germany it licensed three animated features The Tigger Movie, Recess and Doug's First Movie to Super RTL - Movietoons. Buena Vista owns an equity stake in Super RTL.
* A multi-genre agreement with Hungary's RTL Klub. This covers films such as The Sixth Sense, Enemy Of The State and Inspector Gadget and live action series. A One hour Disney branded timeslot on Saturday mornings begins from January 2003.
* A deal with Bangkok Broadcasting & Television covering features, mini-series, TV movies, direct to video titles and animated series. The Thai free-to-air broadcaster will also expand the Disney programming block to one and a half hours. Film titles include Runaway Bride, End Of Days, Six Days Seven Nights, Snake Eyes and Inspector Gadget.
* A multi-genre deal with Romania's state broadcaster TVR and with commercial channel Pro-TV. TVR takes films including The Sixth Sense and library title Pretty Woman and extends its Disney branded timeslot. Its feature driven Pro-TV deal includes Con Air, Enemy Of The State and Air Force One.
* Seven Network in Australia is to begin carrying Playhouse Disney, a free-TV programming strand targeted at pre-school children. Seven already carries a Saturday Disney cluster of branded programming.
Tom Toumazis, senior vice president and managing director of BVI-TV, said that over the next three years Disney will be delivering over 100 films by behind the camera talent including Jerry Bruckheimer, Bill Mechanic, M Night Shyamalan, Ron Howard and John Lassiter. Pictures already being pitched to buyers include Pirates Of The Carribean, new Jim Carrey-vehicle Bruce Almighty, forthcoming Pixar animation Finding Nemo and The Recruit with Al Pacino and Colin Farrell.