French Daily SVOD Use Increases 61%

Following a sluggish start, consumer adoption of subscription streaming video – notably Netflix – continues to grow in France.

New data from Médiamétrie found daily use of SVOD services increased 61% in 2018 from 2017 – including adding 2.1 million subscribers across various services.

In December, the top three movies streamed included Netflix’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle and Extinction. Top TV series included season one of “The Protector,” “Suits” (season eight) and season one of “You”.

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“Today, nearly nine in 10 French people know at least one SVOD service,” Marine Boulanger, director of cinéma and entertainment at Médiamétrie, said in a statement. “This strong response is due to a multitude of factors such as word of mouth, multiplication of platforms and strong communication around original or exclusive content.”

Médiamétrie found the average SVOD user in France is around 34 years old, single or a young parent and more tech savvy than the average citizen. S/he typically owns a video game console or related streaming video device or smart TV.

Nearly 60% of survey respondents used a SVOD service in the past 12 months, with 50% of millennials using a streaming video service in 2018.

Indeed, 96% of SVOD users streaming content daily, and 15% plan to subscribe to a second service. More the 2.4 million French are considering subscribing to a SVOD service in the next six months from word-of-mouth recommendation.

At the same time, 58% of French SVOD subscribers also watch television live or on-demand daily, while 75% use multiple screens, including a laptop computer, smartphone or tablet. The laptop is used by 55% of French SVOD users; 73% among millennials.

‘Très Bien’: Netflix Dominates French VOD Consumption

After a sluggish start, Netflix France has finally established solid footing since launching in the country five years ago.

The subscription streaming video pioneer, which once faced strong criticism from state-subsidized local media and allegations the service would destroy France’s “cultural exception” — especially at the box office, started strong in 2019, capturing more than 52% of all video-on-demand consumption in January, according to Harris Interactive and CNC.

Netflix surpassed Canal Plus (4.76 million subs) with 5 million subscribers, which prompted the French pay-TV operator to launch a new service – Canal+ Séries– focusing on TV shows, including programming from Showtime, FX and others.

On-demand digital programming continues to grow in popularity among the French, with 18% of users watching delayed content, up 2.5% from January 2018.

Nearly 12% consumed transactional VOD content, down 1.6% from 2018, while digital sales of movies and TV shows increased 6.1%.

In January this year, 52.6% of people watching on-demand programming opted for Netflix – up more than 8% compared to January 2018. By comparison, 19.7% consumers chose MyTF1 VOD and 19.5% on Orange.

Amazon Prime Video generated 15.3%, with Google Play and Apple iTunes at 8.2% and 7.5%, respectively.

Indeed, Netflix France ended January with 2.6 times more users than MyTF1 VOD. Not surprisingly, nine Netflix series ranked among the Top 10 programs viewed.


French Packaged Media Sales Fall 16%

Sales of movies and TV shows on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in France declined 16.4% in 2018 — up from a drop of 9.8% in 2017, according to data from research firm GfK.

DVD sales dropped nearly 18% to €323 million ($367 million), with Blu-ray falling 12% to €125 million ($142 million). BD market share increased 1.3% to nearly 28%.

In a market that has seen Netflix attract 5 million paid subscribers, GfK data revealed a 11% decline in disc unit sales, including 11 million Blu-ray and 53 million DVDs.

Notably, combined disc sales topped theatrical revenue by 55% with €478 million versus €288 million for theatrical.




Netflix Tops 5 Million Subs in France

After fits and starts, Netflix has reportedly exceeded 5 million subscribers in France — five years after launching service largely to indifferent consumers, according to publication Les Echos.

 The publication cited comments from Netflix co-founder/CEO Reed Hastings, who was in Paris recently to announce the opening of a company office staffed by 20 employees.

The benchmark is impressive considering Netflix reported 3.5 million subs last September. Since then, the SVOD pioneer has pledge to double local content production. It has also attempted to bridge a divide with the French movie industry, notably the Cannes Film Festival regarding theatrical windows.

 The publication said French media pay-TV/SVOD platform Canal+ still exceeds Netflix in average monthly revenue per subscriber (€40) compared to €12 for Netflix.

French households now spend 1% – 2% of their TV viewing with Netflix, compared to 10% in the United States. About 1.7 million people in France watch Netflix and other video-on-demand services daily (including 60-70% Netflix) in prime time, according to an NPA Conseil study.

Les Echos said Canal+plans to launch a less expensive SVOD service with localized content to up competition with Netflix. In addition the service has the ability to license American TV shows such as “Billions” and “The Affair,” as Showtime does not distribute internationally.

“Even though it has reached the 5 million subscriber mark in France, Netflix probably still has a real growth reserve,” wrote Les Echos.

French Broadcaster Canal+ Gets Shorter Theatrical Window

The French theatrical window is famously long and a matter of law. Changing it simply isn’t an option – unless you’re Canal+, a major financial backer of independent cinema in France.

The Canal+ Group recently announced a new agreement with French regulators that enables its pay-TV service to broadcast theatrical releases from six months after their box office debut.

Typically, French broadcasters must wait at least 10 months. But with declining pay-TV subs in the face of increased competition from over-the-top video platforms, the status quo is changing.

In exchange for the shorter window, Canal+ renewed a commitment to spend more than $200 million annually funding local French film productions through 2023.

The deal also allows Studiocanal, the company’s TV and theatrical unit, for the first time to produce four in-house productions per year—rather than just funding third-party content.

Meanwhile, subscription streaming video services such as Netflix can wait up to three years before gaining access to French theatrical titles – a primary reason why the SVOD pioneer remains engaged in a protracted dispute with the Cannes Film Festival and French exhibitors regarding streaming its original movies concurrent with box office.

While the impasse between Netflix and French exhibitors continues to generate headlines, government officials recognize changing market conditions.

The streaming service, along with Amazon Prime Video and other over-the-top video services, can now stream theatrical titles 15 months after their box office debut, provided they fund local productions – something Netflix and Amazon are doing.

In September, Netflix announced it was producing 14 original series in France in an effort to reach the 30% local content mandate. Netflix reportedly ended the third quarter with about 3.5 million French subscribers.

In February, Amazon announced its first French/German series co-production, a comedy titled, “Deutsch-Les Landes.”

“This is just the beginning for us, as we will keep on bringing the best of French and international TV, including new French Originals, to our customers here,” Jay Marine, VP of Amazon Video EU, said at the time.


Netflix Releases Theatrical Slate, Making Nice in France

Netflix has released a fall theatrical slate that continues to thumb its nose at the traditional box office window.

The streaming video behemoth is reportedly launching 22 July, a reality drama about the 2011 terrorist attack in Norway that killed 77 people, including mostly school children, on Oct. 10 in about 100 theaters worldwide. The debut coincides with the film’s streaming access globally.

Oscar-nominated director Tamara Jenkins’ Private Life heads to theaters and streaming Oct. 5. The critically-acclaimed film will be released in 21 theaters in the U.K., Toronto, Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Boston, Denver, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

The film, starring Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn, had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and will next be seen at the New York Film Festival.

Separately, Netflix is attempting to smooth over its complicated relationship theater with France’s cinematic infrastructure.

The service is producing three original French series, while acquiring four French movies and documentaries. It’s also re-opening a French office in Paris while reportedly agreeing to pay a 2% tax on local SVOD revenue.

Netflix has been at odds with France’s cinema industry regarding the release of Cannes Film Festival selections on streaming concurrent with theatrical. French law mandates minimum four-month box office window – a time frame that can be reduced by one month if a film sells less than 200 tickets (!) in its first month of release.

“We are delighted to announce today three new French series — a witty comedy about friends, family and weed; a psychological horror series; and a modern, coming of age vampire tale in Paris,” Erik Barmack, VP of international originals at Netflix, said in a statement.

Titles include “Family Business,” a half-hour comedy about a young man who recruits his best friends to help save his family’s business, by transforming their butcher shop into France’s first coffee shop.

In “Marianne,” an acerbic young novelist discovers the terrifying characters she writes in her bestselling series of horror novels, might also be living in the real world.

And an untitled series adapted from the book, “Vampires,” by Thierry Jonquet, features a young rebellious teenage girl becoming a vampire as her overly protective mother engages in a race to find a cure.

Documentaries include “Banlieusards,” about Noumouké, 15 years old, the youngest of three brothers from a sensitive suburb of Paris who must choose which of his two brothers’ footsteps he wants to follow.

In “La Grande Classe,” two best friends from a small town decide to return to their hometown for a high school reunion with a secret agenda: take revenge on their former bullies and come to terms with their teenage crush.

To give voice to ordinary heroes – or extraordinary humans — “Solidarite” follows the destinies of five men and women who are symbols of resilience and bearer of hope in humanity.

Initiated through a crowdfunded campaign, “Paris est une Fete” is a real-time French love story filmed over three years on the streets of Paris, without any permits, amidst the crowds in a city scarred by terror attacks and social upheavals.

“Each project involves such talented French storytellers and producers that we are thrilled to be working on what promises to be very exciting times to come,” said Barmack.




Canal Plus CEO Blames Netflix, Regulation for Imminent Shuttering of SVOD Service CanalPlay in France

Canal Plus will close its SVOD service CanalPlay, due to waning subscription numbers in the face of competition from global players such as Netflix and Amazon, CEO Maxine Saada said during a hearing with the culture commission of the French senate, according to reports.

First launched in November of 2011, Canal Plus’s CanalPlay beat Netflix’s launch in France by nearly three years, reported Screen International.

CanalPlay at one time had some 800,000 subscribers but numbers have fallen to just 200,000 subscribers following Netflix’s arrival, Saada told the commission, according to reports. He said French regulations preventing CanalPlay from offering Canal Plus’s high-end originals on the service in the early years of its existence had hindered the ability of the service to compete with the global digital players, according to Screen International.

“At the moment when Netflix arrived on French soil, the only French SVOD player at the time was CanalPlay,” he said. “It had 800,000 subscribers, and we were banned from including originals in the face of Netflix and Amazon.”

That ban has since been lifted, but Saada said the change had come too late, Screen International reported.

“It’s over for CanalPlay. In two years, it has been erased from this market which is in the process of replacing that of television,” he told the French legislators.

“The announcement that CanalPlay is to close in France is another reminder of the growing requirement for major content investment to compete in the increasingly dynamic subscription video sector, particularly amongst local services,” stated Futuresource Consulting after the announcement. “CanalPlay will join the list of high profile closures worldwide over the last couple of years, all with significant parent companies; that includes Shomi (Canada), Watchever (Germany) and KPN Play (Netherlands). Futuresource estimates that CanalPlay had approximately 600,000 subscribers at the end of 2017, but has struggled to maintain pace in 2018 as Netflix momentum continues to build. Netflix doubled its subscriber base in France in 2017 hitting 2.5 million, with more subscriber growth expected for 2018.”

“Offering content that is unique, high quality and ideally, exclusive or original” is key, the Futuresource commentary noted.

“Such a strategy does not come cheap though, something that Canal+/Vivendi was seemingly not willing, or able to fund, particularly when its addressable market is more localised than the likes of Netflix or Amazon Prime Video,” Futuresource stated.

FilmStruck Bows Service in France and Spain

FilmStruck, the online movie subscription streaming service owned by WarnerMedia, has launched operations in France and Spain.

The subscription video on-demand service, which entered the international marketplace with its U.K. launch in February, offers French and Spanish consumers a diverse movie catalogue from the Warner Bros. library and the Criterion Collection library, as well as other global and local content partners.

The service offers a range of critically acclaimed movies across many categories – independent, classic, cult, contemporary and world Cinema – and also features curated themes and exclusive bonus material, including cast interviews, original artwork, Criterion mini-documentaries and hosted introductions.

With a strong emphasis on catering to different audiences with local content, FilmStruck content for each market reflects local curation expertise. The service for France will draw on local content partners Carlotta Films, MK2, RKO and StudioCanal, while the service for Spain will team with local content providers Wanda, Caramel and A Contracorriente Films, among others.

“Rolling FilmStruck out to these additional markets is a significant next step for us,” Aksel van der Wal, EVP, Turner International’s Digital Ventures & Innovation Group, said in a statement. “France and Spain both have a rich heritage in and love for movies, as well as being rapidly developing SVOD markets, which makes them both exciting markets to tap into with what we believe is a fresh and differentiated offering working with fantastic content partners.”

The expansion of the service into France and Spain comes shortly after DV&I and WBDN announced the appointment of Kerensa Samanidis to the role of GM, FilmStruck, International. Samanidis joins from the British Film Institute where she was head of digital products and distribution overseeing BFI’s digital strategy.

French Warming to Netflix

France’s calculated indifference to Netflix appears to be waning.

The subscription streaming video pioneer reportedly is approaching 3.4 million subscribers – adding about 100,000 subs monthly since the beginning of the year, according to newspaper Liberation.

The tally is nearly double the 2 – 2.5 million subs often associated with Netflix’s French presence since launching there in 2014. Indeed, SVOD rivals Orange (2.9 million), OCS (3 million) and beIN (3.3 million) trail Netflix in subscribers. Only Canal+ tops with 4.9 million subs.

The subscriber increase comes less than a year after CEO Reed Hastings was on the defensive after French theater operators blasted the SVOD service for two Netflix Cannes Film Festival movie submissions (Bong Joon Ho’s “Okja” and Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories”) debuting online  without a significant theatrical presence.

Hastings said Netflix would increase by 40% original French content in 2018, on top of “Marseille,” and “Osmosis,” among others. French law mandates 40% of content on radio, TV and theatrical must be of French origin.

Netflix just inked a direct-access agreement with telecom Altice France.

“Offering only American series will not work,” Pascal Rogard, director of France’s Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers, said upon Netflix’s arrival.

The company releases first-quarter (ended March 31) results April 16.




French SVOD/TVOD Use Increasing

French indifference toward subscription streaming video and transactional VOD appears to be waning.

About 20% of French broadband households used a SVOD service in the past year, with another 13% renting a transactional VOD movie – up from 11% from the previous-year period, according to new data from Médiamétrie.

By comparison, London-based Ampere Analysis in January found only 3.1% of French households used SVOD exclusively.

The average French household bought four videos, with households with children under 15 years of age consuming eight videos per year.

Paris-based Médiamétrie said that among SVOD users over the age of 15, episodic programing dominates. More than half (56%) of survey respondents said it was important to have French content.

The company found that on average three people in a household use a single SVOD account. The average user profile includes more women, with households often also subscribing to pay-TV rather than just broadband.

SVOD’s primary strength lies in diversity of content, with TV series (91%), movies (87%), cartoons (44%) and documentaries (40%).

Younger viewers (92%) watch several episodes in a row and 83% binge-view series. In total, the demo watches more than 11 series on average in a year, including more than seven that are available exclusively on a platform.

Médiamétrie said the demo rated episodic programing favorably (83%) due to numerous factors, including stopping-and-starting programing, multi-screen access and account sharing.

Among the top 10 streamed series, American content dominates despite increased desire among respondents to see more “Made in France” content. Indeed, 56% of respondents said it was important to have French movie and TV show productions.

While French households prefer streaming content via the TV, on average a transactional VOD user rents five times per year, mostly for movies. The latter still watches movies in theaters, in addition to watching video on the Web, DVD, DVR and pirated.