German pay TV platform Premiere has signed film package deals with another two Hollywood studios - Paramount Pictures and Columbia - securing programming directly from seven of the eight majors from 2003. At the same time Premiere has become the first part of Leo Kirch's collapsed media empire to close a deal with a fresh investor, saying that private equity firm Permira would take it over.
A deal with Paramount Pictures over the next five years gives Premiere access to such film titles as Vanilla Sky and Save The Last Dance as well as numerous TV movies, while a film package acquired from Columbia will include Evolution, Vertical Limit, The Tailor of Panama, Almost Famous and Snatch
The latest deals follow on from ones re-negotiated earlier this year with 20th Century Fox, Dreamworks SKG, Universal, MGM and Warner Bros.
Premiere's managing director Dr. Georg Kofler commented: "practically everything that has any standing or reputation in Hollywood will have its TV premiere in Germany and Austria in future on Premiere. Whoever expects more from television will find it with us."
In addition, Kofler expressed confidence in reaching a satisfactory conclusion to negotiations with Disney on a programming deal in the near future.
Kofler also announced that agreement had been reached on the essential features of the pay TV platform's future shareholder structure. The private equity specialist Permira - whose investments include British DIY chain Homebase - is taking a majority stake. A banking consortium of the Bayerische Landesbank, HypoVereinsbank and BAWG is retaining a minority interest. The Premiere management including Kofler also plans to have shares in the company.
Describing the deal with Permira as "a complex transaction whose full implementation still requires some time", Kofler explained that all those involved had been in agreement that "we only want to speak about results when the ball is finally in the goal."
Premiere's potential new backers should be pleased to hear that the platform looks set to have its best ever run-up to Christmas, with between 4,000-6,000 new subscribers signing each working day since the beginning of December and more than 100,000 expected for the whole month.
According to Kofler, Premiere will exceed its year-end target of 2.542m subscribers and expected a two-digit growth rate for the fourth quarter of 2002 compared to the same period last year. "The Christmas business has progressed really satisfactorily - we can scarcely keep up with the delivery of the receivers and have to put on night and weekend shifts."