France’s Free sees revenue boost from Canal+ deal

Free tv by canal panoramaIliad Telecom-owned French service provider Free received a boost to fixed-line ARPU last year from its partnership with pay TV provider Canal+.

The operator said that, thanks to its launch of the TV by Canal Panorama service, its fixed ARPU had increased to €34.70 in the fourth quarter

Free has included TV by Canal Panorama in its offering since September last year.

The service provides about 100 linear channels – adding 50 to what Free already provided – and access to 8,000 on-demand titles and episodes with the inclusion of MyCanal.

Free’s Freebox Révolution avec TV by Canal Panorama offering costs €39.99 a month.

Free also cited TV by Canal Panorama as one of the factors behind strong take-up of its high-speed fixed broadband offering. The company added 247,000 broadband subscribers over the year, taking its total to 6.4 million.

On the downside, the inclusion of TV by Canal Panorama had a dilutive effect on Free’s gross margin along with an increase in unbundling costs, which was wholly offset by improved profitability on the mobile side of the business.

The TV by Canal Panorama service emerged from a change of strategy by Canal+, which had previously insisted on retaining direct control of end subscribers who took its services via IPTV, to one where operators were able to market its TV channels as part of a bundled offering. Free and Orange both signed up, while the other main fixed-line provider, Altice-owned SFR, has adopted a strategy of competing head on with Canal+ in the premium TV market.

Overall, Free provides access to about 500 channels, including 180 HD channels and access to about 100 catch-up TV services.

Free currently provides TV via the Freebox Révolution and Android-based Freebox mini 4K boxes. The latter was launched to replace the older Freebox Crystal device, which is still being offered by Free only as part of certain promotional offers.

Iliad posted revenues of €4.722 billion for the year, up from €4.414 billion, and EBITDA of €1.676 billion, up from €1.49 billion.

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