Netflix Targeting 30% of French TV Market2 Sep, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel
SVOD pioneer giving social media recommendation in the U.S. another try
Netflix is targeting 10% of the French pay-TV market within two years of the subscription streaming pioneer’s Sept. 15 launch in the country, CEO Reed Hastings told French newspaper Le Figaro. Hastings said he believes the SVOD service can attract a third of the market within five to 10 years.
Such are lofty goals, as Netflix has yet to come to fiscal terms with major French ISPs, including Orange, Free, Bouygues and SFR, regarding interconnection agreements. Indeed, Orange’s CEO has gone on record saying the telecom would not include direct access to Netflix when it first launches.
Hastings also predicted the future of French broadcast TV, reportedly telling French magazine Telerama the traditional linear TV business would disappear within 20 years; supplanted by the Internet.
Netflix’s pending arrival in France and five other European countries has been big news in media circles. Le Figaro has run nearly 10 stories on the SVOD within the past 10 days, according to its website.
Regardless, Hastings believes establishing a rapport with French television broadcasters, telecoms and ISPs is part and parcel launching service in a foreign territory.
“Over the first year we always concentrate ourselves on the brand image. Whatever we recruit: a lot or a few subscribers, the first objective is to gain a good reputation among consumers. We are careful on the fact they can subscribe easily, that the platforms works correctly and that we deliver attractive contents,” Hastings told Le Figaro.
Meanwhile, Vivendi CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine said the French media company’s Canal Plus premium channel subsidiary (launched in 1984) will not get into a price war with Netflix when the latter launches service there.
“We may make tactical moves or promotions but we are not going to get into price war with Netflix,” de Puyfontaine said on the company’s fiscal call. Canal Plus currently licenses Netflix original series “House of Cards” from Sony Pictures Television.
Hastings told Telerama Canal Plus would eventually transition into an over-the-top video service.
Separately, Netflix Sept. 2 unveiled new social media recommendation software that enables U.S. subscribers to suggest movies and TV shows to their Facebook friends without going viral.
Subscribers can select “friends” from a row of Facebook pictures and add an optional message. The “friends” will receive the recommendation the next time they log onto Netflix. Connecting to them will not post to Facebook or post to the “friends’” news feed.
“They can thank you for the recommendation, and if they watch it or add it to their list, we’ll let [the subscriber] know,” Cameron Johnson, director of product innovation at Netflix, wrote in a blog post.
The updated software marks a move toward enhanced user privacy — a chief complaint to Netflix’s initial social media foray and the main reason for low subscriber adoption.
The subscription-streaming pioneer has been an early convert to social media, using it to announce new releases, fiscal information and op-eds from Hastings, among others.
Netflix integrated Facebook internationally (not domestically) in 2011, whereby foreign subs could voluntarily post their rental titles online. Only after the Video Privacy Protection Act of 1988 was amended and signed into law by President Obama in 2013 did Netflix include the "Friends' Favorites" and "Watched By Your Friends" Facebook links — largely to subscriber indifference.
The updated feature is available on the website, iPad, iPhone, PS3, Xbox, smart TVs and myriad set-top boxes.
“For ‘friends’ who have not yet connected Netflix and Facebook, we’ll send [their] recommendation as a private message to Facebook Messenger,” Johnson wrote.
Separately, Netflix announced it renewed Gothic thriller “Hemlock Grove” for a third and final 10-episode season, beginning in 2015. The series stars Famke Janssen.