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Canal+ ‘planning relaunch’ of CanalPlay SVOD service

Canal+ plans to relaunch its subscription video-on-demand service CanalPlay in the spring with a €10 monthly fee and possibly with a new name, according to French financial daily Les Echos.

According to the paper, the pay TV operator is planning a relaunch of the service at a price point that is competitive with Netflix after having secured regulatory approval to offer exclusive content. Les Echos says that the revamped offering will include drama series and documentaries and will be targeted at a young-skewing audience.

French competition regulator the Autorité de la Concurrence ruled in June 2017 that Canal+ should be allowed to offer some shows exclusively after a long period when non-exclusivity was imposed as a condition for approval of its 2006 merger with rival pay TV service TPS.

Speaking at a French Senate hearing last July, Canal+ CEO Maxime Saada blamed the restriction for a disastrous collapse in CanalPlay’s subscriber base from 800,000 to 200,000. Saada told a Senate committee at the time that the easing of the restriction in 2017 was too little, too late to save CanalPlay, and that France’s restrictive content distribution rules would kill off French fiction in the international market.

Saada said that media regulator the CSA had “systematically penalised” Canal+ by imposing disproportionate fines for breaching content rules, while the competition watchdog had subjected it to about 60 separate injunctions and requirements related to the acquisition of TPS.

A relaunch of CanalPlay represents a shift in strategy for the pay operator. Saada said last year that, in the wake of the SVOD service’s loss of customers, Canal+ would focus on developing its MyCanal multiscreen offering.

According to Les Echos, Canal+ believes the ‘new’ CanalPlay can be differentiated from Canal+’s more expensive premium channel, which – despite recent reverses – offers sports content and will now be able to offer movies six months after their theatrical release.