Canal Plus Sees Digital Outlets as Global Growth Opportunities

Pay TV giant Canal Plus is banking on OTT to expand its footprint in Gaul and around the world with more original content in French and English.

A year after the launch of Netflix in France, Canal Plus’ streaming platform Canalplay still boasts more paying subscribers (700,000) than the U.S. giant, which counts about 750,000 subs including one-third signed on for a free trial, according to Futuresource.

Manuel Alduy, who heads up the bulk of OTT operations for Canal Plus, says Canalplay manages to thrive thanks to new services such as the download-to-go option, and content that targets specifically French auds, including local news.

Last spring, Canalplay debuted its first original fiction commission, “Frat,” an upscale, dark spy thriller taking place in a near future in a Paris counterterrorism unit. The exclusive digital series scored record views on the service.

“As we showed with ‘Frat,’ we want to give subscribers original digital series that have a quality and production value comparable to series we put on the air, because the whole idea is to develop hybrid programs that can be consumed on every device,” Alduy says. “Digital formats are often about comedy or music but our aim is to explore different genre, nationalities and talent.”

Since the acquisition of Lorenzo Benedetti’s Studio Bagel — a talent-driven network of YouTube channels, short-format programs and branded content — in March 2014, Canal Plus has made further major incursions into OTT.

At MipTV, Canal Plus signed a pact with Disney France’s Maker Studios to launch Maker on Demand, gaining access to Maker’s portfolio of videos and network of YouTube channels. In June, Canal Plus’ owner Vivendi acquired YouTube’s rival, Dailymotion, which garners 1.5 billion views monthly, per recent estimates. The Dailymotion acquisition marked a milestone in Canal Plus’ push to internationalize itself since the service generates significant traffic from the U.S., Asia and Europe.

Benedetti, who heads Canal Plus’ new digital creation division, will be rolling out next month an English-language channel on Dailymotion with American and British stand up comedians.

“We’re focusing on creating talent pools and communities, developing series, as well as new brands and IP’s connected to movies, games, music and sports,” explained Benedetti, who’s now working with 20 talents.

Benedetti, whose Studio Bagel doubled the number of channels to 25 and subscribers to 18 million in a year, said Canal Plus Group was also increasingly seeking to build synergies with other Vivendi subsidiaries, such as Universal, to produce original content for all platforms.

Canal Plus is now hunting for fresh content in French and in English to feed all its OTT platforms, Dailymotion, CanalPlay and even myCanal, the catch-up app, Alduy says.

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