‘Walking Dead’ Moscow-Style Has Zombies Speaking Russian

CTC Media Inc. (CTCM) is going Russian.

Encouraged by the success of its locally produced series on zombies, the Moscow-based television company plans to cut foreign content by as much as 70 percent by 2016 and boost home-grown series to capture market share, Chief Content Officer Viacheslav Murugov said.

СTC Media, whose stock has soared 64 percent in New York trading this year, increased its share of viewers in the 10-to-45-year-old age group to 13.7 percent while it aired After Life, a show similar to the U.S. thriller “The Walking Dead,” Murugov said. That’s up from an average daily audience share of 11.4 percent this year, he said.

“It’s a proven fact that Russian audiences are very responsive to Russian movies,” Murugov said. “It’s just logical to try to monetize that even more.”

Shares of CTC Media added 1.1 percent to $12.77 in New York. The Bloomberg Russia-US Equity Index of the most-traded Russian stocks in the U.S. rose 0.6 percent, led by Polyus Gold International Ltd. and OAO Mechel. RTS stock-index futures advanced 0.1 percent to 140,980 and the benchmark Micex Index (INDEXCF) increased 1.2 percent to 1,465.70 in Moscow today.

CTC Media will post the fastest annual sales growth in three years in 2014, according to the mean estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

The company still plans to buy Hollywood blockbusters that will be broadcast mostly on weekends on its CTC channel, the source of 60 percent of the company’s revenue in 2012, Murugov said. CTC Media also operates the smaller television channels Domashniy and Peretz.

‘The Eighties’

CTC Media attracted more viewers last quarter after broadcasting some of its past series including “The Eighties” and “Kitchen,” Anna Lepetukhina, an analyst at OAO Sberbank said by phone from Moscow Dec. 6. She has a buy rating on the stock.

“They own what they produce and can make that content available for watching online at a time when television audience is drifting to Internet,” Lepetukhina said. “When they buy Hollywood blockbusters, all they get is being able to show the movie once or twice.”

Based on the comic book series of the same name, “The Walking Dead” tells the story of a small group of survivors living in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. The show aired on the cable television channel AMC Networks Inc. (AMCX)

CTC’s share of viewers in the 10-to-45-year-old age group increased to 11.6 percent last quarter from 10.1 percent in the same period a year ago, the company said on its website, citing TNS Gallup Media.

The Market Vectors Russia ETF (RSX), the largest dedicated Russian exchange-traded fund, increased 0.8 percent to $28.25 in New York. The RTS Volatility Index, which measures expected swings in the stock futures, fell 2.9 percent to 23.54.

To contact the reporter on this story: Halia Pavliva in New York at hpavliva@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tal Barak Harif at tbarak@bloomberg.net

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