Orange to rival France’s Canal Plus

Satellite adds to pay TV operator's reach

A new European pay TV star was born Tuesday at Mip TV.

Just 24 hours earlier, Gallic giant France Telecom’s Orange confirmed deals with Warner Bros and HBO for a new premium feevee Orange Cinema Service, a six-channel movie-TV bouquet.

On Mip’s second day, Orange announced that OCS will also go out on satellite beginning in the fourth quarter on Eutelsat Hot Bird and Eutelsat Atlantic Bird.

This makes Orange one of the world’s most sophisticated pay TV operators in tech terms, delivering OCS via satellite, cable, IPTV and mobile TV and offering video-on-demand, including TV episodes, on all the systems.

Orange is already the world’s second-biggest IPTV operator, with 1.15 million subs. But only half of France receives IPTV; satellite allows OCS to reach the entire country.

The jury’s out on how many more big deals Orange will sign.

“Orange is already Canal Plus’ biggest distributor in France,” said Herve Payan, Orange’s senior VP of partnerships and services.

But Orange needs exclusive content to induce broadband subs to migrate to its triple-play and mobile offer, Payan insisted, and inducing such a migration is the driving reason for entering pay TV. 

Orange’s new service means France has two satellite pay TV operators, both backed by deep-pocketed congloms — Canal Plus parent Vivendi and France Telecom — a juicy prospect for U.S. content suppliers.

Orange’s satcaster bow announcement came, appropriately enough, on techie day at Mip TV.

Multiple panels sweated over online TV and film distribution, led by Jason Kilar, chief exec of the NBC Universal and Fox’s Hulu, their ad-supported online vid site that offers movies and series for free.

Online video consumption, advertising and TV show viewing had all tripled over the last 24 months, Kilar said, calling  on more companies to join Hulu.

His speech excited TV execs.

“Ad-supported, free-of-charge, online video is the real way forward,” said Ricardo Fraguas of Spanish VOD site Filmotech.

Mip TV also hosted a conference strand on ad agency and brand financing of TV production.

Clearly, ad integration and program sponsorship is a startup biz in Europe.

Natalie Rastoin, managing director of Ogilvy France, revealed that Ogilvy had brought in Gallic luxury goods brand Louis Vuitton to finance a docu series on big cities seen through the eyes of stars.

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