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Vivendi to Shut Down Studio+, Its Mobile Series App

Vivendi is preparing to shut down Studio+, its app dedicated to mobile-native scripted series, barely two years after its launch in 2016.

A spokesperson for the company confirmed to Variety that the Studio+ app is about to be axed. But he said production of short-format digital series, suitable for viewing on mobile phones, would continue under Vivendi’s Studiocanal banner and be distributed through Canal Plus Group’s pay OTT service, Mycanal, and its video-sharing platform, Dailymotion.

Canal Plus Group will honor its existing deals with telco companies, including Telefonica in Latin America and Orange and Bouygues in France, by delivering Studio+ mobile series already in production. These deals with telco groups, which allowed Studio+ to claim up to 5 million subscribers, will end in late 2018-2019, according to an industry source.

Studio+ was also rolled out in the U.S. last November in Apple’s App Store, which offered one month’s free trial, followed by a monthly subscription for $3.99. The U.S. debut was packaged with the premiere of original drama series “All You Need Is Me” (pictured), starring Toby Sebastian (“Game of Thrones”) as a struggling L.A. talent manager.

On Monday, Studio+ was no longer available in the Apple’s U.S. App Store but was still available in France. Also Monday, Vivendi was expected to publish its results for the first half of the year.

The looming shutdown of Studio+ comes shortly after the departure of its creator, Dominique Delport, the longtime exec at Havas and Vivendi, who joined Vice Media in April. Under Delport, Studio+ delivered well-regarded scripted originals such as “Ahi Afuera” (“Out There”), a Patagonia-set headhunt, and “Crime Time,” a Brazilian thriller based on a true story, both of which were nominated for International Emmy Awards last year. The dramas adhered to the 10×10 format: 10 episodes consisting of 10 minutes each, regarded as optimal for mobile viewing.

Since its launch, Studio+ has invested more than €30 million ($35 million), an industry source said, but it failed to recoup that investment with a subscription price which started at €4.99 and ended at €2.99. The disappointing performance could be due to the fact that millennials, the target demographic, were not ready to pay for a standalone offer that only included mobile series. BlackPills, a rival app which has been free up until now, boasts 2.5 million users, but that could change once it introduces its pay offer.

Another explanation behind Studio+’s downfall is that telco companies outside China may not have developed the skills to promote mobile-native content, the industry source said, noting that even Jeffrey Katzenberg raised $1 billion instead of his initial goal of $2 billion for NewTV, which has a concept similar to Studio+. Verizon Wireless has just folded its mobile video service Go90 after spending roughly $1.2 billion on it.

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