Canal Plus chief: Amazon will launch French SVOD service in March

Canal Plus CEO Bertrand Meheut has claimed that Amazon will likely launch a subscription video-on-demand service in France in March next year.

Meheut, giving evidence before the French Conseil d’Etat to support Canal Plus’s case against the country’s competition authority’s ruling on its merger with TPS and subsequent remedies, said that the pay TV operator was aware of Amazon’s intentions because production arm StudioCanal had sold exclusive movie rights to the internet company for a March launch on the Kindle Fire tablet.

Amazon currently has about two million subscribers to its Lovefilm SVOD service across the UK, Germany and Scandinavia.

Meheut was seeking to impress on the Conseil d’Etat the increasingly competitive nature of the video distribution business in France. He said that the restrictions imposed by the competition authority would lead to a loss of 300,000 subscribers in the first year, leading to a reduction of €170 million in revenues and €130 million in profits.

Canal Plus deputy CEO Maxime Saadi also raised the possibility of the launch of a service by Netflix in the country next year. Saadi dismissed claims that OTT entrants in the country would face challenges from the strict regulation of VOD windows by pointing out that the Hollywood majors would not necessarily be bound by these regulations.

Saadi also said that only a relatively small proportion of IPTV subscribers in France subscribed to Canal Plus’s services, ranging from 11% of Orange’s customers to 15% of Free’s.

The competition authority has meanwhile revealed that Canal Plus has until January to dispose of its stake in the Orange OCS movie service as part of the series of obligations it has been forced to undertake to secure approval of its merger with TPS.

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