Netflix Tops 100,000 French Subs in 15 Days1 Oct, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel
SVOD pioneer inks telecom distribution deal with Orange
Netflix reportedly has generated more than 100,000 subscribers since launching service in France on Sept. 15, according to Le Figaro. The SVOD pioneer also signed a direct access deal with Orange, the French telecom whose CEO infamously declared the broadband provider would not offer Netflix directly to its subscribers at launch. Orange has about 5.8 million pay-TV subscribers.
Netflix also launched service in Germany, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg.
Unlike in the United States, Netflix appears to be having an easier time negotiating direct-access deals with European pay-TV providers. A year ago, Virgin Media became the first cable operator in Europe to sign a deal with Netflix.
"The negotiations were tough but are finished. There is no reason to penalize Orange customers, who will have a much better experience using Netflix through [our] set-top box,” CEO Stephane Richard told Le Monde.
With the majority of Netflix’s early subs likely free trials, coupled with the service’s availability in France limited to online and mobile devices, Netflix needs distribution deals with the country’s top broadband providers if it wants to reach a stated goal of 33% of French pay-TV homes within five-to-10 years.
Netflix’s separate agreement with Bouygues Telecom takes effect in November.
Regardless, the subscriber tally shows promise considering Netflix's main SVOD competitor, CanalPlay, took three years to generate 520,000 subscribers.
With much of France unfamiliar with over-the-top video and two-thirds of pay-TV subscribers (16 million) getting access to content through multichannel video distributor set-top boxes, Netflix hired advertising agency Ogilvy to create one of its largest-ever brand marketing campaigns.
Netflix’s message remains simple: Offer unlimited access to continually refreshed content for a low monthly fee and no long-term contract. CEO Reed Hastings’ goal during the SVOD’s initial year in France is to generate a positive reputation among the country's notoriously fickle consumers.