Netflix’s French press brewing success despite initial concerns

Netflix not welcome in France?

It appears that concern was a bit overblown, as the video streaming company already has added more than 100,000 French subscribers since launching just two weeks ago, according to a report from Le Figaro.

The paper says that the Canal+ subscription video-on-demand service, three-year old CanalPlay, meanwhile, has just more than 520,000 subscribers

So, what’s driving growth?

Netflix, as it does in all of its markets, even the United States, offers a free, 30-day trial membership for new subscribers.

In France, subscribers will be billed 7.99 euros and 11.99 euros monthly after the trial ends, depending upon which service plan they choose.

And, of course, pundits are betting that growth will slow – or stop altogether – once pay plans kick in.

But that hasn’t been the case in Netflix’s other territories, where growth of paid subscribers has remained strong.

The content mix Netflix is offering, content from the United States and from some of the earlier European markets it’s launched in continues to prove appealing.

Plus, the company has promised to provide content that’s local, as well, and already has begun contracting local original content.

All of that combined makes Netflix appealing.

A goal of more than 9 million French subscribers

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, at the CTAM Eurosummit in Copenhagen last month, said the service believed it could penetrate one third of TV households in its international markets within seven years of launch.

In France, with roughly 27.7 million TV households currently, that would mean it expects to have a subscriber base exceeding 9 million by 2020.

Although the company has yet to lure an operator partner beyond Bouygues, it’s making strong gains with connected TV users and, of course, owners of smartphones and tablets, the growing mobile market.

What’s that mean in the long run?

Hastings also has said it’s not critical that Netflix be the top SVOD player in any international market, just that they be one of the top players.

In France, the track appears to be holding true.

Stay tuned.

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