Canal braces for SVOD battle
10.51 Europe/London, October 6, 2011 By Robert Briel

French pay-TV operator Canal Plus will launch its CanalPlay Infinity SVOD service on Thursday, October 13. Initially the service will only be available on SFR’s IPTV platform. The new service will compete with Allociné’s iCinema service, set to launch later this month, but seems also to be a pre-emptive move against a possible French launch of Netflix.
The new service does not require a subscription to either Canal+ or the CanalSat bouquet, but is open to all IPTV customers of SFR. The monthly fee is set at €9.99 for an ‘all you can eat’ subscription. With pricing set at under ten euros, CanalPlay is clearly a defensive move against a possible French version o Netflix.
Canal already has a transactional VOD service available under the CanalPlay brand and the company has decided to use the same brand for its subscription service with the addition of the word Infinity. Interestingly, the T-VOD CanalPlay is now only available on Free, BBox and Numéricable, not on SFR. CanalPlay Infinity is also set to launch on Free in about two months’ time.
According to Canal, the service has the widest choice available of all SVOD services in France, with 2,000 movies and 700 episodes of TV series. The service is available on all screens in the subscriber’s home, including TV, PC, Mac and iPad.
Allociné’s iCinema service will launch at the end of the month with an offer of over 10,000 titles, including both movies and TV series. Contracts are in place with French studios Pathé (300 titles) and Gaumont, as well as with Warner Bros.
Meanwhile, Orange has announced it will start to offer FilmoTV, which was launched in 2009 by film distributor Wild Bunch. But with only 80 titles on offer, this seems like a small player. FilmoTV also has tablet versions of iPad and Android as well as connected TV deals with Samsung, LG and Toshiba.
In a related development, French music channel Mezzo has clinched a deal with Numéricable to lauch catch-up and VOD services ont he cabler’s network. Negotiations with SFR are also in an advanced stage, according to local press reports.