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Altice takes on Canal+ with exclusive NBCU, Discovery deals and new premium channel

Michel Combes

Michel Combes

In a significant ramping up of its strategy to compete head on with French pay TV leader Canal+, cable and telecom group Altice has struck exclusive deals with NBCUniversal and Discovery and unveiled plans to launch a new premium channel dedicated to series and movies.

Altice’s French operator SFR is launching a new premium TV channel dedicated to series and movies on the back of an exclusive distribution deal struck by its parent company with NBCUniversal International.

That deal will also give the operator exclusive distribution rights in metropolitan France to 13th Street, Syfy and E! Entertainment Television. The agreement will deprive Canal+ of NBCUniversal’s channels when its current contract with the US media group expires.

The agreement includes a premium pay TV output deal whereby SFR will have the rights to offer NBCUniversal films including the Bourne, Fast & Furious and Despicable Me franchise films.

The new SFR channel will offer a catalogue of movies and new series from  the NBCUniversal catalogue as well as other French and European productions – potentially including those from its homegrown studio, created a few months ago.

The deal with Discovery will initially give SFR exclusive rights to carry Investigation Discovery, which will launch on the platform on December 15, and Discovery Family, which will launch on SFR in the summer of 2017.

The agreement will also see SFR add Discovery Channel, the US factual giant’s flagship service, and Discovery Science from December 15. Both channels will be exclusive to SFR from January 17, meaning that SFR will be the only distributor in France for the Discovery portfolio. The channels will be available on all SFR platforms, including online.

In total therefore, the deals means that SFR will be able to offer eight exclusive new channels as part of its premium service, contributing to a growing portfolio of 20 services spanning news, movies, entertainment and documentaries.

Altice said that SFR is also working to build its SFR Play on-demand platform by acquiring a raft of French and other European films that will be available on the service soon.

Altice’s deal with NBCUniversal will also enable the former to offer NBCUniversal content to Meo subscribers in Portugal.

“We are delighted to announce this agreement with NBCUniversal International which will enable us to achieve an unprecedented strategic partnership for a distributor in France. It covers both NBCUniversal International Networks’ portfolio, each leading in its genre, and its blockbuster productions, marking our entry into the field of cinema broadcasting. I am pleased our customers in France will now benefit from the best films and series of NBCUniversal,” said Altice CEO Michel Combes.

Of the Discovery deal, Combes said: ““With Discovery, a world-renowned player is partnering with Altice and SFR to enrich its offerings and maintain its exclusive and premium content strategy. I am pleased with the exclusive agreement we have signed with the largest producer of real-world entertainment which will allow all our customers to have access to dazzling content on all platforms. We know that Discovery is one of their favourite programmes and we are proud to offer it.”