After much build-up, Netflix has finally launched in France — but so has a new competitor. In a statement posted to its local site this morning, Netflix promised to “revolutionize the entertainment universe by proposing a subscription offer adapted to the needs of all and (providing) exclusive access to original programs.” Among those will be Orange Is The New Black but not flagship original House Of Cards, whose rights are still with rival Canal Plus. CanalPlus has its own SVOD service, CanalPlay, but it’s cable provider Numericable who’s upped the ante today. The company has just launched LaBox Séries, a free service for its fiber-optic subscribers which will offer about 3,000 episodes per month of U.S. and European programs including The Walking Dead, Mad Men and Sons Of Anarchy, according to local reports.
Netflix is launching with the support of telecom and Internet provider Bouygues which will begin offering the streaming service via its set-top boxes, the means by which most French households access television, in November. Bouygues is the first such company to partner with Netflix as others have thus far refused with execs reportedly unable to agree on financial terms. Speculation today is that others may be more inclined to follow now that Bouygues has signed on. Before the set-top box option becomes available, French users will have access to Netflix (beginning at 7.99 euros/month) via the other standard methods.
Netflix’s arrival in France has been met with hurdles as the company sought deals with local rights holders over the past year and met with government officials to smooth its entry. The company ultimately chose to domicile itself in Luxembourg which means it will not have to comply with French regulations that dictate a portion of revenues be funneled back into local production. The headquarters will eventually be moved to the Netherlands. But Netflix still has to deal with France’s arcane windows system which puts 36 months between a film’s theatrical release and its SVOD availability.
“We are proud to bring the television of the future to France,” said Netflix CEO Reed Hastings today. Other programming immediately available will include Hemlock Grove, Bojack Horseman, Fargo, Penny Dreadful, Downton Abbey, Sherlock and Broadchurch. Upcoming series include Marco Polo and Netflix’s French original Marseille. Films include The Dark Knight, The Hangover and The Social Network.