The arrival of Saada within Vivendi’s management board is part of the company’s recent strategic moves and underscores its ambition to continue growing its international scope and focus on content, media and communications. The management board, which remains chaired by Arnaud de Puyfontaine (who is also CEO), welcomed several other new members alongside Saada.
Last month, Vivendi, whose supervisory board is chaired by Yannick Bolloré, launched a takeover bid for Lagardère, the French publishing and travel retail conglomerate, following the distribution of 60% of the share capital of Universal Music Group and its listing on the Amsterdam stock exchange.
“I am truly honoured to join Vivendi’s management board under the leadership of Yannick Bolloré and Arnaud de Puyfontaine. I am eager to accelerate the transformation, internationalization, and integration of all entities to unleash new synergies and create value with my colleagues,” said Saada. The executive added that “Canal+ Group shares Vivendi’s ambition to promote European culture worldwide.”
Saada pointed out that Canal+’s “fraternal ties with all Vivendi entities are a major asset and several examples illustrate the creative power that comes from working alongside one another.” He cited several instances of synergies within the group, such as the soundtracks of the two seasons of the series “All the Way Up” which were produced by Polydor, a label owned by Universal Music Group. Studiocanal also does film adaptations of novels published by Vivendi-owned company Editis, including “Radioactive,” “The Wolf and the Lion” and “The Secret Garden.”
Meanwhile, Havas, the advertising and marketing group owned by Vivendi, is behind the impactful commercials on Canal+, which were created by Havas’ subsidiary BETC.
“All the bridges that we have begun to build and which we will continue to build, will allow us to develop the successes of tomorrow,” continued Saada.
Saada has a stellar track record at Canal+ Group, having ramped up the banner’s international footprint from 11 million subscribers in 2015 to nearly 24 million in 2021 across more than 40 countries across Europe, Africa and Asia. Approximately two-thirds of Canal+ subscribers are now located outside of France. Under Saada’s watch, Canal+ Group acquired the pay-TV broadcaster M7 for over €1 billion ($1.01 billion) and launched in Ethiopia and Austria in 2021, and became the leading shareholder of South African pay-TV firm MultiChoice.
Canal+ Group has also been investing €3.4 billion annually in content and produced 35 scripted shows in-house in 2021, including “All The Way Up,” which racked more than 70 million views in France. The company also co-produced many international shows, including “Django,” the third season of “War of the Worlds” and “Marie-Antoinette”.
Studiocanal’s recent movies include “The Stronghold” in France, “Bloody Milkshake” and “A Boy Called Christmas” in the U.S., “Drunk” in the U.K. and “The Royal Game” in Germany. Upcoming titles include “Paddington 3,” “November” and “Retribution,” the next Liam Neeson actioner.
Under Saada’s leadership, Canal+ Group secured broadcast rights to Champions League soccer until 2027, Premier League soccer until 2025, the Top 14 Rugby until 2027, and Formula 1 and MotoGP until 2029.
Canal+ also recently inked a pact with French film guilds to access new movies six months after their theatrical release, a big improvement upon their previous 12-month window. This new window applies to French movies, as well as U.S. movies. The banner has deals with Disney, Fox, Warner and Paramount.
Saada has also positioned Canal+ Group as an aggregator, having reached distribution deals with Netflix in 2019, Disney+ in 2020 and Starzplay in 2021. Paramount+ is the fourth U.S. platform which will join Canal+ offers by the end of 2022.