Canal Plus launches half-price offer

Pay TV deal to cover Friday to Sunday night

PARIS — Canal Plus is thinking outside the box. The Gallic giant will launch a half-price premium pay TV offer, called Canal Plus Week-End, running Friday to Sunday night.

Announced by prexy Betrand Meheut Thursday in an interview with French newspaper Le Monde, the move will allow subscribers to buy Canal Plus Week-End for Euros15 ($21) a month.

Canal Plus has been fighting off charges for months that it was about to launch a low-cost version.

Running for under half the week, Canal Plus Week-End is priced at half the cost of a monthly subscription to Canal Plus’ premium, five-channel bouquet, including its lodestone Sunday night French soccer league game.

The service will launch September, in time to take in France’s new soccer season.

“The Canal Plus Week-End launch isn’t necessarily misguided, but it’s a risk. There’s a danger of soccer fans downgrading to just the weekend offer, though the offer can be seen as a teaser to take the whole full-week service,” said Francois Godard, at Enders Analysis.

Coming just days after Canal Plus announced a joint venture satellite TV service with Vietnamese public broadcaster VTV, Canal Plus Week-End shows Canal Plus innovating fast to increase subs in increasingly tough market conditions.

Though it hasn’t been as whammied by the recession as France’s free-to-air broadcasters, Canal Plus lost 35,000 net subs over 12 months, reaching 10.42 million at the end of March. Canal Plus annual churn rate ran at a historic high of 15%, attained in fourth quarter 2008.