Service features premium feeds

MADRID — Gallic telco giant France Telecom-Orange has attracted 200,000 subs in 2008 for its new satellite pay TV service, which launched in July.

The service features FT-Orange’s premium pay TV feeds — Orange Sport, which bowed Aug. 9; and the six-channel Orange Cinema Series, which bowed Nov. 13 and taps content from Warner Bros. Intl. TV, HBO, MGM, Gaumont and SND.

Both are also available on FT-Orange’s Internet broadband TV service, where they pick up an extra 100,000 subscribers.

Dominated by the Vivendi-owned paybox Canal Plus, France was commonly regarded as a near-mature pay TV market before FT-Orange’s satellite launch — but the slew of new subscribers disproves that opinion.

Including satcaster CanalSat, Canal Plus added 50,000 subscribers last year for a 10.6 million total.

According to Herve Payan,  senior VP of Orange’s content division, the success of FT-Orange’s satellite and premium services owes much to pricing.

The basic package is rolled into its triple play offer of broadband Internet, fixed line telephony and TV.

Like HBO, but unlike Canal Plus, FT-Orange’s premium sports and movie channels are sold separately, at a modest $8 and $15 per month, respectively.

However, Canal Plus claims FT-Orange is incurring large losses on its premium pay TV service.

Payan said FT-Orange paid $252 million a year for select pay TV and mobile phone soccer rights. He said its OCS content deals cost “significantly less” than the reported annual $126 million announced by Canal Plus.

But exec declined to predict break-even dates for Orange Sport and OCS.

“Our content is used to drive triple-play customers, encourage existing customers to upgrade to triple play and boost revs-per-subscriber,” Payan said.

FT-Orange had 1.9 million triple-play clients in France by year-end 2008.

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