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Vivendi reportedly putting Netflix rival project on ice

The Vivendi office is seen in Paris on Wednesday, May 17, 2006.Vivendi has put its plans to develop a pan-European OTT service to compete with Netflix on ice following its decision to close German SVOD service Watchever and the acrimonious collapse of its planned alliance with Italy’s Mediaset, according to a French press report.

According to daily Libération, citing an unnamed source, Vivendi Content chief Dominique Delport last week told the team that had been set up to lead the project that its weekly meetings were suspended until further notice.

Instead, according to Liberation, Vivendi plans to focus its energies on the development of mobile-dedicated short-form series offering Studio+, which is set to launch at the end of this month.

According to the paper, the plan for a Netflix-like service has not been completely abandoned, but it is no longer seen as an immediate priority.

Vivendi had hoped to build a service on the basis of the combination of its existing OTT properties – France’s Canalplay and Watchever in Germany – with Mediaset’s Infinity and, possibly, the participation of Spain’s Telefónica, in which Vivendi holds a 1% stake.

However, the closure of the loss-making Watchever in the face of competition from ProSiebenSat.1’s Maxdome and Netflix, and the collapse of relations with Mediaset following Vivendi’s decision to seek a renegotiation of the April 8 agreement between the pair, made the viability of the project questionable.

Vivendi has also announced that it is to cut €300 million costs at pay TV unit Canal+, with about half to come from cuts in its programming budget.

According to Liberation, Vivendi planned to launch the SVOD offering in France, Germany and Italy, and then develop the service into other international territories. However, according to the paper’s source, Vivendi chairman Vincent Bolloré is no longer willing to meet the considerable costs of such a project.