Netflix Ups Competition and Disrupts VOD Market in France

Netflix’s September launch of its SVOD service in France is expected to shake-up the country’s VOD sector and usher major changes in the country’s online platforms.

Until now, French broadcasters have seen VOD services as a way to build viewer loyalty and source new talent. Total VOD viewing has risen steadily, jumping 50% between 2011 and 2013, according to data from the CNC film org.

Revenues nonetheless remain muted: the total paid VOD market was worth €245 million ($309 million) in 2013 and the SVOD market $34 million in 2012. Subscribers to SVOD services of the main payTV operators — Canal Plus and OCS — are less than 10% of their pay TV subscribers.

Netflix’s entry into France will increase competition for content, as demonstrated by Netflix’s investment in its first show, “Marseille,” a “House of Cards”-style political thriller set in Southern France.

Locally, M6, France’s second-largest commercial broadcaster, has been active in Web platforms and outpaces its rival TF1 in terms of VOD viewing. M6’s 6play app won the French SMA award, and showcases short-format comedies such as “Camera Cafe,” “Kaamelott,” and “Soda” as well as Web-exclusive content via its Golden Moustache online channel.

Canal Plus has also been highly active and in March acquired Studio Bagel, YouTube’s network of French comedy channels, with almost 6 million subscribers. And France Televisions has used Web series to test new concepts. It launched “Les Operateurs” on Daily Motion and then broadcast it via France 4.

“Web platforms have primarily served to find new talent,” says Mathieu Bejot, executive director of TV France Intl. “People used to make a short before making a feature, now the Web is the main launchpad.”

As Netflix continues to shake up France’s VOD market, the commercial appeal of exclusive online content will likely increase — perhaps leading to better monetizing of the country’s collective creative efforts.

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