Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 14th 2014 Contents A34
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt September 14, 2014
PARIS---Netflix is tapping into six new markets
Monday hoping to gain a big subscriber base around
Europe, but is facing a frosty welcome in France.
Well-established French competitors are trying to
head off a Netflix wave, the government wants
oversight and the cinema industry wants Netflix
to invest heavily in French productions.
The video-streaming giant, which has more than
50 million subscribers in 40 countries, this year ear-
marked US$400 million to expand further interna-
tionally. It s launching now in Germany, Austria,
Switzerland, France, Belgium and Luxembourg, after
setting up in Britain, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Nor-
way, Sweden and the Netherlands in recent years.
The presence of Netflix, which has headquarters
in Los Gatos, California, is welcome in most European
countries, but less so in France, where Netflix hopes
to reach a third of French homes in the next five to
ten years. Netflix declined to comment on its chal-
lenges in France before the official launch Monday.
The company was a pioneer in the field in the US,
and enjoyed new success by creating original content
such as the series House of Cards. But video-on-
demand services are now already well-established
in many European markets.
Canal+, France s main pay-TV operator, has half
a million subscribers for its CanalPlay, started in
2011, and moved last Wednesday to head off a com-
petitive blow from Netflix. Canal+, which already
owns French rights to House of Cards, launched a
new partnership with HBO as well as the possibility
to pre-download series and movies to watch later
without an internet connection. It also announced
it will create French and American-produced TV
"What is impressive with Netflix is its technological
and marketing abilities," said Frederic Goldsmith,
from a French-based group of movie producers, "but
its service isn t new."
Patrick Holzman, CanalPlay s director, is banking
on their "French touch" and proximity with customers.
"Our strategy is the same, with or without Netflix,"
Bruno Delecour, head of FilmoTV, one of France s
first video-on-demand companies, said the buzz
around Netflix is positive for the French market,
because it incites new households to try video-on-
demand services. But Delecour remains vigilant. The
entrepreneur decided to focus on developing a spe-
cialised offer in movies rather than competing with
a generalised content provider like Netflix.
"We ve been preparing for competitors for years.
We made the choice to occupy one segment of the
market and invested heavily accordingly."
In Germany, experts have said little impact is
expected by Netflix s arrival, as the country already
offers a considerable amount of free and pay-TV.
Another challenge in France is a requirement that
40 per cent of content on French radio, TV and
movies in theatres must be of French origin.
Because Netflix s European headquarters are in
Amsterdam, the company does not have to comply
with the rule, which is designed to protect domestic
But French movie and television industry experts
rally around the idea of the "French Exception."
Offering only American series will not work," said
Pascal Rogard, director of France s Society of Dramatic
Authors and Composers.
Aware of this, Netflix has already planned to produce
an eight-episode television drama series called Mar-
seille, written by French award-winning writer Dan
Frank and set to start in late 2015.
But for some contributors to French cinema, this
investment effort falls short.
"We welcome the competition," said Rogard, "but
only if they re playing with the same rules."
Netflix will have to comply with some French and
European regulations. Notably, they will be barred
from streaming films under three years old. From
January 2015 onwards, Netflix will also have to pay
a two per cent tax if their annual earnings are more
than ten million euros, following a recent decision
by the French Culture Ministry to tax operators based
In France many close to the film industry fear
Netflix will drag subscribers away from Canal+, which
is currently the main financier of French-made films.
France bristles as Netflix
advances in Europe
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