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French VOD market may double

Survey finds 61% increase in downloads

PARIS — The Gallic video-on-demand market could double in value in 2008, according to a joint study released this week by research group GfK and French media consultants NPA Conseil.

The survey found that around 6 million VOD downloads were made during the first six months of 2008, nearly a 61% increase over the same period a year earlier.

The GfK/NPA report showed that American films enjoyed the biggest VOD growth rate over the year — 93%, compared with around 20% for French product and 53% for other foreign titles.

“The growth, especially in(subscription video on demand), has been quite tremendous,” said NPA managing consultant Jean-Marie Le Guen. “We think the VOD market could perhaps reach E60 million ($88.2 million) from E30 million ($43.7 million) last year.”

In three categories — TV drama series, youth-oriented programs and X-rated films — average download prices have increased to $5.60 from $4.85 on the year.

French VOD growth has been fueled by fierce competition among the three main providers in Europe’s biggest IPTV market — France Telecom’s Orange, Iliad’s Free and Neuf Cegetel.

All three now offer basic triple-play packages priced around $44.10 a month.

Cut-rate time-limited VOD offers are also becoming more common. From Sept. 10-22, Orange made 1,000 film titles available for a 24-hour period of unlimited viewing for subscribers to its 24/24 Video package at $1.47 each, two-thirds off the normal fee.

Movie downloads make up about two-thirds of the French VOD market.