Showtime's Einstein claims "best year ever"

Pay TV platform Showtime has had what its president and CEO Peter Einstein says is its best year ever, bucking the global downturn in the media sector and making major inroads into piracy.

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By  David Cass Published  November 7, 2002

Pay TV platform Showtime has had what its president and CEO Peter Einstein says is its best year ever, bucking the global downturn in the media sector and making major inroads into piracy.

Einstein was talking during an exclusive interview with ITP for Arabian Business and Digital Studio magazines when he made his claim, which he attributed to three main factors, the launch of the Home Cinema bouquet of ten movie channels on a pay-per-view basis, the elimination of the cost barrier to joining the platform and being able to operate "fully and legally" in Saudi Arabia, which is the region's largest single market.

The importance of the Home Cinema launch was, he said, that it added a significant amount of Arabic language content to Showtime's portfolio and that enhanced the launch into Saudi where, he said, "there’s a lot of nice disposable income but not a lot for people to do in terms of going to the cinema or home video, etc, so this has been an overwhelming success in countries like that.

"It expanded our offering into Arabic movies, which we never had before and the best part of it all is that it continues to grow month by month by month to today, where I would venture to say that we probably have the highest penetration of someone taking a pay-per-view movie than any payTV platform."

On the elimination of the price barrier through the offer of a free decoder and free installation, he said, "That was another defining moment in the sense that the market place responded instantaneously to it and sent us into virtually another two levels of subscription that we had never seen before."

Einstein said that another important factor was that the Pay TV sector in the Middle East differes from the developed markets of the US and Europe in that it is subscription-driven. As a result, while media companies around the world are suffering from a free-fall in advertising income it has little effect on Showtime and its competitors.

On the subject of piracy he claims major success for the initiatives that have been in place for the past year, saying, "In terms of the smart card piracy that we were experiencing, that’s been eliminated but we will continue to watch that as we go forward because it’s an on-going battle. You have to stay a step ahead of technology and the pirates who are able to crack that so we have a whole battle plan in place where we’ll be introducing new cards and new upgrades of software so we can always stay a step ahead."

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