×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Gallic pay TV subs sink

Exex blame losses on poor p'gramming choices

PARIS — The Canal Plus Group’s troubled French paybox — its biggest cash generator — is expected to lose another 120,000 subscribers this year.

The bad news comes as the group grapples to meet tough financial objectives set by parent company Vivendi Universal, which has ordered management to return the money-losing group to operational profit this year for the first time in seven years.

Analysts believe the subscriber slump, revealed by a French newspaper, won’t prevent Canal Plus from achieving its aims as it continues to slash costs and restructure under recently appointed chairman Bertrand Meheut.

Fortunes went south in 2001

After 15 years of growth to a peak of around 4.5 million subscribers, the Gallic pay TV web’s fortunes shifted in 2001, shortly after Canal Plus’ merger with Vivendi and Universal.

It lost 70,000 subscribers that year and, continuing to parallel Viv U’s rocky fortunes, shed that many again in 2002.

The subscriber losses follow a trend in pay TV globally, while locally, Canal Plus has had to contend with the growth of rival French pay TV platform TPS, now a serious competitor with more than 1 million customers.

This year’s subscriber decline probably also reflects the loss of opportunists who signed up last year only to take advantage of aggressive promotional offers.

But Canal Plus execs blame the worsening bleed this year on the poor programming choices of the past two seasons, made by a changing cast of execs as long-serving chairman Pierre Lescure and then his successor, the subsequently ousted Xavier Couture, tried to kickstart the stalling channel.

High rate of turnover

An array of those execs has since ankled, including the short-lived programming chief Alexandre Drubigny and channel topper Dominique Farrugia.

Programming gaffes included a lowbrow talkshow hosted by a popular youth radio presenter and a lame “Osbournes”-style fly-on-the-wall series with French rapper Joey Starr and ballad singer Francis Lalanne, whose tackiness outraged some Canal Plus subscribers.

Co-managing director Guillaume de Verges, who like Couture was poached from TF1, said he wants to reposition the French web and bring back quality programming.

But the channel’s mid- to long-term fate remains murky, along with that of the rest of the Canal Plus Group, while Viv U chief Jean-Rene Fourtou focuses on debt reduction and a sale of assets.

More TV

  • The Beatles Eight Days a Week

    Imagine's Documentary Arm Sets First-Look Pact With Apple (EXCLUSIVE)

    Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Documentaries has set a first-look pact with Apple to develop non-fiction features and series. The deal comes as Imagine is investing heavily in the premium non-fiction arena. The company in June recruited RadicalMedia veteran Justin Wilkes to head Imagine Documentaries as president. The deal suggests that Apple sees docu [...]

  • Fyre Festival Documentaries: The 10 Most

    Fyre Festival Documentaries: The 10 Most Outrageous Moments

    It is perhaps only fitting that two documentaries about the disastrous Fyre Festival, one of the most high-profile fraudulent failures in history, would arrive during the same week — a fitting cap on a tragicomedy of errors that, as both films outline in excruciating detail, unfolded like a slow-motion plane crash in the spring of [...]

  • Walt Disney HQ LA

    Disney Unveils Financial Data for DTC Unit, Sets April 11 for Investor Presentation

    Disney has rejiggered its business segments for earnings reporting to make room for the new unit housing its global streaming operations. Disney on Friday released restated earnings for fiscal 2018, 2017 and 2016 to give investors and financial analysts better visibility into its spending on the launch of the Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and other [...]

  • annapurna logo

    Annapurna TV Taps Amazon's Patrick Chu as Senior VP, Promotes Ali Krug

    Annapurna TV has brought on Patrick Chu as the division’s new senior VP. Prior to that, he had served as an executive for Amazon in drama, production, and development, where he oversaw small-screen adaptations of “Hanna” and “The Hunt.” He will develop and produce new TV projects, focusing on drama, at his new role at [...]

  • Emmys: Why The TV Academy Finally

    Why the TV Academy Finally Ended Emmys DVD Madness, and Who Might Benefit the Most

    Three years ago, Netflix overwhelmed Television Academy members by sending out a 20-pound shipment of DVD screeners. It was an exercise in excess, as insiders suggested that the streamer spent as much as $4 million to produce and ship the multiple boxes. Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos hated the idea of sending out these [...]

  • MANIFEST -- "Crosswinds" Episode 110 --

    Live+3 Ratings for Week of Jan. 7, 2019: 'Manifest' Winter Premiere Doubles

    “Manifest” returned from its first winter hiatus by doubling in adults 18-49 in the delayed viewing numbers. For the week of Jan. 7, “Manifest” went from a 1.1 rating in Live+Same Day to a 2.2 in Live+3. In total viewers, the show added 4.4 million viewers for 10.3 million total, an increase of 76%. NFL [...]

  • curt menefee tv take podcast

    Listen: Curt Menefee on 'Fox NFL Sunday,' Colin Kaepernick and Rising Football Ratings

    Welcome to “TV Take,” Variety‘s television podcast. In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Daniel Holloway, talks with Curt Menefee, host of “Fox NFL Sunday,” the long-running pre-game show being inducted into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame in April. Menefee has a pretty packed week. Mondays are his weekend, he says, discussing the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content