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Netflix Poaches ‘House of Cards’ From French Paybox Canal Plus

PARIS — After airing on French pay TV giant Canal Plus, David Fincher’s critically-aclaimed political drama “House of Cards” will be exclusively available on Netflix in France kicking off today with season 4.

Although “House of Cards” was conceived as a flagship show for Netflix, the series’ first three seasons aired exclusively on Canal Plus because the U.S. streaming service had signed a deal with the French pay TV channel before launching in Gaul in September 2014.

Netflix has now rolled off season 4 of “House of Cards” today across most of its 190 markets including France. All four seasons are also available in India, where Netflix has just launched. The service has, however, not obtained exclusive first-window rights to the show’s fourth season in Germany, Spain and Italy. “House of Cards” will be on Netflix in Germany six month after it airs on Sky, it will also arrive later on Netflix in Spain. In Italy, “House of Cards” will air exclusively on Sky.

France has proved a challenging market to break into for Netflix due to the strict release schedule which has the SVOD window for movies set at 36 months after their theatrical release. That restriction limits Netflix’s ability to feed its slate with fresh movies in France.

Netflix counts an estimated 770,000 subscribers in Gaul; it only grew by 400,000 subscriber in 2015, compared to its growth of 1.5 million subs in the UK and 1.2 million in the Nordics, per Jonathan Broughton, senior analyst at IHS.

IHS predicts Netflix could reach 1.5 million subs in France by 2018. In order to expand its reach, Netflix will have to develop more French-language content. Netflix’s first French show, Dan Franck’s “Marseille,” which is a political drama with Gerard Depardieu, is expected to bow in the Spring.

Meanwhile, Canal Plus has been steadily ramping up its offer of original French and English-language drama series such as Simon Mirren and David Wolstencroft’s “Versailles” and most recently Ziad Doueiri’s (“The Attack”) “Baron Noir,” a dark-edged thriller skein set in the French political world with a cast of movie stars including Kad Merad, Niels Arestrup and Anna Mouglalis.

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