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Canal Plus launches VOD service

Pay TV company takes on cable, ADSL rivals

BIARRITZ, France — In a pioneering but clunky move to face off with already established VOD on cable and ADSL TV in France, Gallic pay TV giant Canal Plus has launched a satellite TV version of on-demand service, Canal Plus a la Demande.

The new on-demand satellite TV service offers download to TV sets of premium TV shows and movies on Canal Plus Le Bouquet to Canal Plus subscribers clients with broadband Internet connections. Comprising a catch-up TV service, offers hold until a month after programming’s first run.

Launched March, Canal Plus a la Demande is already available straight to PC and for Canal Plus Le Bouquet clients of free ADSL TV service.

The initiative marks a first step by Canal Plus to stand up to cable and ADSL operators who have sold VOD services for years.

These operators already offer Canal Plus. Technological limitations have to date prevented Canal Plus from venturing into VOD. So Canal Plus have lost consumers wanting VOD in areas where cable or ADSL services are available.

“The move’s understandable. Canal Plus doesn’t want to pay commission to ADSL or cable operators and wants to control the consumer relationship totally,” said Francois Godard, an analyst at Enders Analysis.

But Canal Plus’ toe-dipping in VOD looks to present serious turn-offs for consumers.

Download time for movies could be north of 15 minutes. Canal Plus suggests consumers attach external hard-drives to their set-top boxes to store downloads.

“I think these demands will undermine the attractiveness of the offer. If it’s 10 p.m. you don’t want to wait 20 minutes to see a movie,” Godard said.

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