Canal+ looks to partnerships, new pricing models, Millennials to drive crucial growth

France’s Canal+ Group wants to double the number of subscribers it has by 2018 and this week previewed  an ambitious plan that includes a new pricing model with “skinny” bundles of content, expanded partnerships, a new set-top box scheduled to deploy next year and a very targeted play to Millennials that features a no-contract offer of any streaming-only package that delivers to PCs, tablets and smartphones.

At a press conference this week the company said that it will drop entry-level prices for its service to 19.90 euro/mo. starting Nov. 15, giving subscribers access to a basic Canal Plus channel and services like Canal + Decale and MyCanal. The company is looking to offer an even greater degree of customization for customers subscribing to higher-level tiers that range from 29.90 euros/mo. to 99 euros/mo. and offer a larger choice of channels. Like many new modular offerings globally, customers can choose to add mini- and micro-bundles to either package, including sports, family and movie bundles.

Subscribers who choose to add the Movies and Series bundle will also have access to the CanalPLAY streaming service.

Canal+ already has signed new distribution agreements with Orange and Free to supply packages of content, and it’s currently engaged in talks to further expand its reach with Bouygues Telecom and SFR. Canal+ also is in the process of working out an agreement with Apple that reports say will be made public by the end of 2016.

 “Content ­– or the lack of it – is the number one factor for which people subscribe or unsubscribe; the price comes second in most cases,” said Frank Cadoret, head of distribution, technics and information systems. “We want to reach the widest possible demo which is why we’re striving to adapt to the tastes and financial means of all,” adding that 55% of people in France have never had Canal+.

The company is the second biggest pay-TV player in Europe, with 5.4 million subscribers. Its deals with Orange and Free will add 4.2 million new subscribers.

For content owners and distributors scale has taken on an increased urgency, especially as OTT services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and other regional plays gain traction in more markets.

Until recently, Canal+ has been slow to adapt to the changing online distribution environment, and has seen Netflix in particular become a tough foe, losing market share to the streaming giant.

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Editor of Videomind and Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn