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Canal+ ‘finalising’ distribution deal with Netflix

Canal+ is in advanced talks about a deal to distribute Netflix on its platform, according a report by French newspaper Le Figaro.

According to the paper, the negotiations between the pair are well advanced and could lead to an agreement being finalised over the next few weeks. Netflix would be available as an option to Canal+ subscribers, but the pay TV operator has not ruled out bundling the service with its own offerings, says Le Figaro.

Netflix is by far the leading SVOD platform in France with around five million subscribers, but a deal with Canal+ could help it extend its penetration of pay TV households ahead of the likely launch of other US streaming services such as Disney+ or Apple TV+ in the country.

Netflix has already struck agreements with the four leading French ISPs – Bouygues Telecom, Orange, Altice France/SFR and, more recently, Free.

As a pay TV platform operator, and unlike ISPs, Canal+ has previously resisted signing distribution partnerships with rival services such as BeIN Sports, Altice France/SFR’s RMC Sport and Orange’s OCS, before agreeing to deals.

News of the potential deal with Netflix comes as Canal+ Séries, the SVOD offering that Canal+ launched six months ago passed the milestone of one million subscribers, according to Canal+ deputy CEO of broadcasting and programming, Jean-Marc Juramie, cited by financial daily Les Echos.

Canal+ Séries, offered via the myCanal portal and via OTT, is however also included by Canal+ as part of its Les chaînes ciné/series package and it its L’intégrale offering.

Canal+ has suffered the effects of competition from the US streaming giant. The pay TV operator’s boss Maxime Saada blamed what he saw as an uneven playing field for the demise of Canal+’s previous SVOD offering CanalPlay.

Addressing a French Senate hearing last year, Saada blamed restrictive French windowing rules that affected domestic players for hobbling CanalPlay in the face of competition from Netflix. He said that CanalPlay had been unable to benefit from exclusivity of distributionof series had led directly to the collapse in its OTT TV service’s subscriber count.

A report published this week by Futuresource showed that Netflix is driving growth of subscription video-on-demand in France, while multiple SVOD subscriptions have yet to take off. According to Futuresource, only 40% of French streaming consumers take more than one SVOD service.

Futuresource also reported that over two thirds of Netflix users in the country prefer to view the service on a TV, with smart TVs seen as a key driver of the service’s growth.