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Africa and wholesale market provide boost for Canal+

Strong growth in Africa and a slowing rate of attrition among subscribers in metropolitan France saw Canal+’s base grow by 612,000 in the year to March 31.

The pay TV operator lost 73,000 net subscribers in France over the year, but international subscribers increased by 685,000 driven by strong growth in Africa. Canal+ also saw modest growth in collective contracts.

Hervé Philippe

Canal+ globally had 15.327 million subscribers at the end of March, including 8.011 million individual subscribers in France and 6.736 million internationally.

The company did not break out the number of direct subscribers in France versus those through wholesale agreements with ISPs. In its full-year results for 2017, direct customers had declined by 304,000 year-on-year to 4.95 million, while wholesale customers had grown by 189,000 to 3.117 million, giving a Q4 total of 8.067 million, and it seems likely that this trend is continuing.

Speaking to analysts after parent company Vivendi announced its Q1 results, chief financial officer Hervé Philippe said that Canal+ in France was “recovering with a good commercial trend and improving churn”.

Canal+ posted revenues of €1.298 billion for Q1, up 2.5% on an organic basis. Revenues in France were “almost stable” in Philippe’s words, boosted in part by Canal+’s new wholesale agreements with three out of four of France’s leading ISPs.

Free-to-air revenues declined, but international TV revenues grew by 5.3%, boosted by 12.3% growth in sales from Africa, despite the absence of coverage of the African Cup of Nations football tournament, which took place in the same quarter last year.

Production arm StudioCanal’s revenues grew by 19.2%, boosted by ongoing sales of hit movie Paddington 2.