PARIS– Weathering protests and skepticism from French industryites, Netflix has managed to have a successful start in Gaul.
The U.S. company has already lured over 100,000 subscribers since its launch in Gaul on Sept. 15, according to French newspaper Le Figaro. Netflix did not confirm the figure and declined to comment on it.
The California-based platform partly owes its strong start to a massive marketing campaign, as well as its complimentary one-month offer for all new subscribers.
French journos are comparing the performance of Netflix and CanalPlay, the VOD platform operated by French pay TV leader Canal Plus, pointing out that the U.S. platform has attracted 10 times more subscribers in two weeks than CanalPlay.
CanalPlay, which bowed three years ago, currently has 520,000 subscribers.
Manuel Alduy, head of Canal Plus’ OTT division, explained, however, that the growth of CanalPlay is now accelerating thanks to various initiatives taken since last year. “In December 2013, we had 330,000 subscribers and as of July we have 520,000 of them,” said Alduy, who pointed out the service’s catalogue has expanded from 4,000 titles to more than 10,000 programs. It also boasts carriage deals with four telco groups: Orange, Free, SFR and Bouygues.
So far, Netflix has a single deal for set-top box distribution with Bouygues Telecom and will roll out on the service in November.
But as the U.S. platform aims to reach one-third of French households, its prime challenge will be to partner up with other Gallic telco groups. Indeed, the majority of French consumers only watches content on TV via a set-top box.
Netflix has been facing a similar challenge in Belgium and Luxembourg, where it launched on Sept. 18 with no major carriage deals. It finally inked its first pact with Belgacom on Sept. 29.
“In Luxembourg and Belgium, the pay TV penetration exceeds 90% and operators want to launch their own competing services — Telenet for instance already has multiscreen brand Yelo and recently announced its intention to bolster its content library,” said Richard Broughton, senior analyst at IHS Screen Digest. Telenet has also claimed it was not interested in signing a deal with Netflix.
Netflix is available from 7.99 Euros ($8.8) per month in France, Germany, Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg and from $13.8 in Switzerland.
Its European slate includes “Orange is The New Black,” the animated comedy “Bojack Horseman,” as well as “Fargo” and “Penny Dreadful” which are shown exclusively on Netflix across France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland.