French broadcaster Canal+ today unveiled a new ad-free subscription video on-demand (SVOD) service called ‘Canal+ Series’, set to release in France tomorrow. But while recent data found that Netflix has overtaken Canal’s individual subscriber count, Canal+ CEO Maxime Saada said the new offering is not an answer to Netflix, but is designed to be complementary to streaming services offered by US competitors.
The service will undercut Netflix in price though, starting at €6.99 per month for one users (compared to €9.99 for Netflix in France). And Canal’s new service has a number of features presumably aimed at differentiating the product in a crowded SVOD market.
Firstly, as the name suggests, the product will exclusively host TV series. At launch, Canal+ Series will feature a mix of Canal+ original productions such as ‘Versailles’, ‘Spiral’, ‘Guyane’ and the upcoming ‘Vernon Subutex’, as well as licensed foreign series like ‘Killing Eve’ and ‘Twin Peaks’. Some of the licensed series will be available exclusively on Canal+ Series, including Sky Italia’s ‘Gomorrah’ and SyFy series ‘Deadly Class’.
— Groupe CANAL+ (@canalplusgroupe) March 11, 2019
While initially only launching in France, Canal does plan to expand the new service internationally, and the international content might be useful for drawing in foreign audiences. But Sadaa said he wants to steer clear of licensing too much content from the US, seeing an emphasis on French and European content as a way to differentiate from rival services.
Canal is also pitching the new service as a curated collection of quality content – only around 150 series will be available at launch. To emphasise this, Canal says content recommendations will primarily be handled by a dedicated team deciding which show are likely to be enjoyed by similar audiences, rather than an algorithm based on user behaviour.
Canal+ Series will sit alongside Canal’s existing on-demand offering myCanal, which Saada says is still Canal’s primary digital offering. But with the new cheaper service, which doesn’t require any other Canal subscription, the broadcaster is looking to expand its subscriber base and accommodate for falling overall subscriber counts.
But the company has had trouble with SVOD in the past. A previous offering, CanalPlay, was shut down last year, after its subscriber count fell to 200,000 from a high of 800,000. Saada blamed the collapse on restrictions imposed by French regulators which barred the service from offering content exclusively, and these restrictions have since been lifted.