Orange TV subscriptions take off

Premium services attract 596,000 subscribers

PARIS — Subscriptions to Orange TV’s French premium pay TV services Orange Sport and Orange Cinema Series rose 50% to 596,000 through Sept. 30.

Premium pay subscriptions at Orange TV, the TV arm of giant Gallic telco France Telecom, stood at 400,000 at the end of June.

The uptick was expected at Orange TV. Driven by the start of the soccer season, third quarter pay TV results in Europe are usually the best of any quarter in the year.

“You sell pay TV on soccer or other sports and you keep your subscribers through cinema,” said Francois Godard, at Enders Analysis.

And Orange has been marketing both Orange Sport and Orange Cinema Series strongly.

No indication was given in France Telecom’s third quarter results, made public Thursday of marketing and recruitment costs.

That said, given France’s highly competitive pay TV market, “the operational figure looks reasonably good, though this is bound to be the best quarter of the year,” Godard said.

Orange TV launched multi-sports service Orange Sport in August 2008; Orange Cinema Series, a five-channel bouquet, followed in November, rolling off multiyear deals with Warner Bros. Intl. TV Distribution and HBO.

From March 24 to May 15, Orange stopped selling Orange Sport while its legality was contended at the Paris Tribune of Commerce.

While much has been made of Orange TV rivalry in premium pay TV with dominant player Canal Plus, Orange TV is designed primarily to push France-Telecom-Orange triple play subscriptions.

Orange’s triple pay offers Internet, local and some international telephone calls and free-of-charge TV channels for a total Euros30 ($45) a month. Orange Sport costs a premium markup of $9 a month, Orange Cinema Series costs $18.

Subscriptions to other Orange and third-party pay TV packages increased 15% over the 12 months through Sept. 30 to 819,000.