Canal+ becoming ‘aggregator of apps’, international subs now in majority

Canal+ is “evolving from an aggregator of content to an aggregator of apps” through distribution deals with the likes of Netflix that will establish the pay TV operator as “as the best gateway to the content most desired by French customers”, according to Vivendi CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine.

De Puyfontaine, speaking to analysts after Vivendi posted its Q4 results, also said that over half of Canal+’s subscriber base was now international, leading the group to gain more than 3.1 million customers in the course of the year despite its French base dropping by 200,000.

Answering an analyst question on prospects for consolidation and thoughts on a tie-up with Sky, De Puyfontaine said that “we don’t have any project regarding an opening of the share capital of any of our other businesses” other than Universal Music.

Canal+ had 20.3 million subscribers at the end of 2019 following its absorption of M7 in Europe, up from 17.2 million a year previously. The subscriber base in the French market stood at 8.4 million at the end of the year, down from 8.6 million a year earlier.

Canal+’s overall revenues for the full year were €5.3 billion, up 2%. Organic international revenues increased by 6.1%.

TV revenues in France fell by 2.8% at constant currency as the individual subscriber base continued to decline, while revenues from international operations grew by 6.1% at constant currency, driven by organic growth in Africa and the integration of M7.

Revenue from production arm Studiocanal declined by 12.8% to €434 million due to fewer theatrical releases.

Answering an analyst question, Vivendi CFO Hervé Philippe said that the group was “optimistic” about the Canal+ business even if “the competitive environment in France is still tough”. However, he said, the management of was “very confident” about growth prospects internationally with “the number of subscribers now more important outside France than in mainland France”.

For Vivendi as a whole, Universal Music remains the gift that keeps on giving, with the outfit’s revenue increasing by 14% to €7.159 billion for the year.

Vivendi revealed that, in addition to its agreement to sell 10% of Universal Music to China’s Tencent based on an enterprise value of €30 billion, it was looking at the sale of additional minority interests and an IPO in early 2023 at the latest.

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