Vivendi sticking to plan for Canal+, says CEO

Vivendi plans to stick with its existing strategy to secure the future of Canal+, despite the loss of key football rights to Mediapro, and to focus on MyCanal as its flagship non-linear platform in the wake of the collapse in subscriptions to SVOD service CanalPlay, according to CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine.

Arnaud de Puyfontaine

Speaking to analysts following Vivendi’s solid first-half results, De Puyfontaine said that the pay TV outfit had demonstrated a “very strong performance” in the first half and pointed out that the group would retain Ligue 1 football rights for the next two years before Spanish broadcaster and producer Mediapro’s deal kicks in.

De Puyfontaine said that Canal+ had a “very compelling proposition” even without football. He said that, given the strong momentum of the group both in France and internationally, “there is no willingness to change the business model for two years [and] we will focus on what we are currently doing”.

Regarding football rights and the entry of Mediapro in the French market, De Puyfontaine told analysts that “the worst decision” would have been to overpay for Ligue 1 rights to the extent that he believes Mediapro has.

“We’re not going to jeopardise our momentum by paying a price that…is totally disconnected from the capacity of the customer base to pay for that product,” he said.

Referring to the collapse in the CanalPlay’s subscriber base, De Puyfontaine said that Canal+ CEO Maxime saada had indicated that he wanted to focus on developing MyCanal, describing it as “the best consumer experience to consume the fantastic portfolio of films, TV series and programmes on Canal+”.

He confirmed that Vivendi’s short-forum mobile-focused app, Studio+, would be closed down, but said that this would enable the group to allocate more resources to develop Canal+.

Separately, Vivendi has written its stake in Telecom Italia down by €512 million in its first-half results, which De Puyfontaine said was to account for “risks associated with the execution of [the group’s] plan”, given Vivendi’s reduced power to participate in its policy decision-making following activist investor Elliott’s boardroom coup earlier this year.