Canal+ Groupe is the dominant force in French pay television. Canal+ itself is the umbrella for more than 20 different premium channels and a small collection of free strands including general entertainment channel C8 (formerly D8), music channel CStar (ex-D17), and CNews (the old i-Tele). These are broadcast by cable or via satellite broadcaster CanalSat, which also offers other third-party TV and radio channels. Sport and movies are its two key offerings. Among other exclusive deals, the group has broadcast rights for almost 90% of French Ligue 1 soccer games as well as a large package of Champions League games, and also first broadcast rights deals with several major studios. Associated company StudioCanal is Europe's leading film and television production studio, actively involved in the funding and production of European as well as English-language feature films and television programs. It is also Europe's biggest film distributor, and controls the world's third largest home entertainment library. Yet despite its high profile and influence, Canal+ audience share remains small, averaging just 1.2% of France's prime-time audience during 2018. Free-to-air C8 had around 3%, well behind domestic rivals TF1, France 2, M6 and France 3. Combined share across all its various channels was just under 6%. The French business has been under intense pressure for several years, with a steady decline in direct paid subscribers - from over 6m in 2015 to 4.7m by the end of 2020 - as well as revenues. However that loss was partly offset by 3.4m viewers gained through wholesale partnerships with Orange, Free and Bouygues, and growth in international markets - including Francophone Africa, Poland and Vietnam - where the group has around another 13.1m subscribers. In 2019, Vivendi acquired Luxemburg-based M7, which operates pay-TV platforms in the Benelux region, Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Revenues for 2020 were €5.5bn. Jean-Christophe Thiery is chairman with Maxime Saada as general manager. For regulatory reasons, the Canal+ Groupe has only a controlling 51.5% shareholding in the Canal+ broadcast channels, with the remaining shares publicly held. It has full control of the Canalsat platform and Studiocanal production division. The group is itself owned by French conglomerate Vivendi, whose predecessor company was one of the original investors in Canal+ when it launched in 1983. It has gradually accumulated additional shares, finally buying out minority shareholder Lagardere in 2013.
Capsule checked 28th May 2019
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Adbrands Daily Update 14th Oct 2019: "Biiip". How meta can you get? BETC Paris pushes it to the limit with a series of three ads for leading French pay-TV platform Canal+ which - like every other legacy content platform - has come under intense pressure from Netflix, and is also nervously awaiting the arrival of Disney+ and other new challengers. The gag here is that "for legal reasons", Canal+ can't mention Netflix or any of its programmes. BETC made the first two ads, but then - because life is always stranger than fiction - everything changed when Canal+ and Netflix signed a truce and agreed to join forces against the new invaders. So they had to make a third ad to explain the whole situation. It's a complicated proposition, more complicated than it needs to be, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable. And who can resist ads with a bit of swearing?
Adbrands Daily Update 28th May 2019: Canal+ took further steps to offset weak performance in its domestic market. It has agreed to acquire Luxemburg-based M7, which operates satellite and streaming TV distribution services in several European markets. Its brands include Skylink in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, HD Austria in Austria, Canal Digitaal and Online.nl in the Netherlands, Diveo in Germany and Telesat and TV Vlaanderen in Blegium. M7 doesn't create content but aggregates bundles of third party channels including the Disney Channel, HBO, Eurosport, National Geographic and Nickelodeon. It has around 3m subscribers. The deal price was reported to be a little over €1bn.
Adbrands Social Media 19th Oct 2018: The latest for Canal+ from BETC Paris offers lavish digital effects at what must have been considerable expense, and it's designed to impress. However it lacks the sort of brilliant idea that has underpinned some of the agency's best work for this client, like those Emperor penguins, the Closet, and the Bear, or even some of the more recent spots for Canal+ sports coverage. How many ads for a pay-TV service have we seen like this that feature a horde of characters or situations from different movies or shows all jumbled up in the same frame? The results are certainly visually effective, and the punchline at least is different, but ironically an ad about the big idea is missing a big idea.
Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Mar 2018: War broke out in the French TV industry between leading commercial broadcaster TF1 and satellite platform Canal+. The two companies failed to agree terms for the renewal of the contract under which Canal+ distributes TF1's free-to-air channels to its customers. TF1 is asking Canal+ to pay a comparatively modest carriage charge of around €20m; the Vivendi-owned platform has refused to do so, and took TF1's feeds off the air last Friday. Under pressure from the Ministry of Culture, France's audiovisual regulator intervened to mediate between the two sides. Canal+ eventually restored satellite service yesterday, but negotiations are continuing over broadband customers. TF1 is also embroiled in a fee dispute with telecoms giant Orange over distribution of its channels to broadband customers.
Adbrands Weekly Update 22nd Feb 2018: Ads of the Week: "That's Got To Hurt". French creative agency BETC can always be relied upon to come up with something great for long-time client Canal+. Ads like March of the Emperors, The Cupboard, The Bear and others are among the best and most awarded ads to have originated in France over the past decade. Here's the latest addition to that impressive body of work, to mark this coming weekend's UEFA battle between top football teams Paris St Germain and Olympique de Marseille. A bit of voodoo is all well and fine, but only if you're the only side practising it...
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