Canal launches on-demand service

Option available on TV Canal Plus

France’s Canal Plus Group is launching Canal Plus On Demand, a catch-up TV service for its premium pay TV Canal Plus channel bouquet.

From Tuesday, subscribers to Canal Plus Le Bouquet will be able to access a wide selection of programming for repeat or catch-up viewing.

Boasting 5.3 million subs at year-end 2007, Canal Plus Le Bouquet comprises six channels: Canal Plus, Canal Plus Cinema, Canal Plus Sport. Canal Plus Decale, Canal Plus Hi-Tech and Canal Plus Family.

Hits available for catch-up viewing include light entertainment shows such as Zapping, series and movies, including “Desperate Housewives” and crime series “Spiral,” animations, docs and soccer, such as Italian, Spanish and German league games, and the European League of Champions tournament.

Programs will be available up to a month after first transmission.

Canal Plus On Demand will be offered free-of-charge to existing Canal Plus subscribers, a key factor in encouraging adoption. CPG will extend the catch-up service to the whole of its digital TV CanalSat satellite, cable and broadband Internet offer later in 2008, said a CPG spokesperson.

Canal Plus’ catch-up TV is a pioneering move in France. The U.K. is more advanced. Pubcaster BBC bowed a beta catch-up version last summer, and fully launched on Christmas Day, to impressive results. British pay TV giant BSkyB launched Sky By Broadband in January 2006 and broadcaster Channel 4, via 4OD, also operate catch-up services.

“The general perception is the online video ad market is most developed in the U.K., U.S., Korea and Japan,” said Screen Digest analyst Dan Cryan.

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