Salto on the brink as TF1 and M6 announce plans to pull out

After months of uncertainty, the future is looking bleak for French SVOD platform Salto. Over the weekend, several French newspapers reported that two of the platform’s three shareholders TF1 and M6 have decided to sell their stakes. The third shareholder, France Televisions, had already tried to pull out earlier this year.

Salto never really captured the imagination of French consumers. But the problems for the platform began in earnest when TF1’s proposed merger with RTL-owned M6 fell through. Until that point, the plan was for TF1 and M6 to acquire the FTV stake and try to turn Salto into a meaningful rival for Netflix. At time of writing Salto has around 800,000 subscribers compared to an estimated 12 million for Netflix.

The big question now is whether Salto will be shut down or sold. Clearly the partners would rather the latter but there are few obvious contenders. Big tech platforms Amazon Prime and AppleTV+ might see an opportunity to expand their footprint in the country, though this would go against the spirit of the Salto experiment – which is to provide a French alternative to big tech invaders.

One possible local suitor is Vivendi-owned Canal+ but the PayTV giant is currently focused on acquiring rival cable operator OCS. Besides, the only real rationale for Canal+ to buy Salto would be to secure access to the platform’s original content. Mediawan might also see Salto as a way to boost its streaming presence.

If, however, Salto closes down, that means there are 800,000 potential customers up for grabs. The shareholders will presumably try to migrate them to their own dedicated services, but it’s also an opportunity for Netflix and Canal+ to expand.

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