Altice Studio and Orange Content in the starting blocks
by Fabien Lemercier
- The two telecoms operators are shifting up a gear to provide access to films and series in an increasingly competitive landscape
While the healthy glow of France’s film-funding cornerstone, the Canal+ group, is dimming somewhat owing to the fall in the number of its French subscribers (down 492,000 in 2016, giving a total of 5.25 million) and its calculated strategy of generating tension among creators (for example, not paying authors’ rights, with €50 million backed up in arrears for the time being and a court summons on the cards from the collection agents; piling pressure on the producers of animations and documentaries to reduce already-signed pre-purchase commitments by 20%, and so on), telecoms operators are firing on all cylinders as they invest heavily in the content side of things.
The Altice group (which currently operates through the SFR brand) has announced the 22 August launch of a linear film channel and an on-demand platform called Altice Studio, where 400 films will be on offer per year, alongside two original new series per month. An annual amount of €40 million will be dedicated to the funding of productions and co-productions. On the cinema side of things,
Altice Studio will invest in three French films each year, the first being Place publique [+see also:
film profile] by Agnès Jaoui, the shoot for which will kick off on 31 July. But above all, Altice (which previously chipped in funding for Medici: Masters of Florence, Taken [+see also:
film profile] and Riviera [+see also:
film profile]) will concentrate its efforts on the series side, particularly in the area of co-production, with partners such as Netflix, Amazon, Rai and Sky.
Not wishing to be outdone, Orange has planned a 1 September launch for Orange Content, which will be headed up by David Kessler (the former managing director of the CNC) and will encompass the entirety of the content of this group that has been involved in film and television for many years, with Orange Studio and OCS. Already a partner of UGC Images since the start of the year for the theatrical release of films (a minimum of five titles per year), the co-production of French works and the acquisition of foreign features, Orange is intensifying this partnership by agreeing to exclusively pre-purchase all films produced by UGC and sell them overseas through a new company that will commence operations in September. Furthermore, Orange has revealed that it is planning to invest €100 million a year in series production. Lastly, the operator has inked a deal strengthening its commercial cooperation with Canal+: subscribers to Orange via fibre-optic will be offered the Canal+ Essentiel bundle on preferential terms.
A number of major operations are therefore under way in the French audiovisual industry, especially to thwart Netflix, which can boast 1.5 million subscribers in the country, to pre-empt the steady rise of Amazon Prime Video (which began operations in France last December) and the probable arrival of Apple and other giants, but also to curb the ambitions of Altice (which masterminded a "blitzkrieg" on sporting-event rights and has cornered Canal+ to a certain extent). And the battle to secure access to content and achieve maximum exposure of it across all possible platforms is bound to witness a good deal of unforeseen developments for some time to come. These changes will surely have repercussions on the funding of cinema in France. Watch this space...
(Translated from French)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.