Speaking this week during a session with the culture commission of the French Senate, Saada revealed that subscription numbers for the service have dropped dramatically in recent years from a high of 800,000 to only 200,000 today.
Saada claimed that previous French regulations preventing CanalPlay from showing Canal Plus originals on the service was partly to blame for the demise. “It’s over for CanalPlay. In the last two years, we have been taken off the map in this market, which is replacing television,” he said, specifically citing Netflix’s monthly subscription growth in the territory as a major challenge. The service first launched in 2011 while Netflix arrived in late 2014.
Saada appeared before the commission to discuss regulation of the audiovisual sector. He called for updated legislation which offered more protection for French film and TV producers in the face of growing online titans such as Amazon, Netflix, Google, Apple and Facebook, which he lamented were not paying enough tax in the territory.
Saada also expressed frustration over the firm losing out on its lucrative rights to Ligue 1 soccer to Spain’s Chinese-backed Mediapro, a development which could, like the demise of CanalPlay, have a knock on effect on the wider film and TV industries given that Canal Plus has been a major investor in French film and drama.
His revelations about CanalPlay have been widely picked up by French media although some have questioned whether the service’s demise is entirely down to rival SVOD services.
As we well know from the Cannes-Netflix snafu, Netflix’s growth in France has divided opinion. While largely welcomed by consumers and some producers, the streaming giant has vexed cinema owners and those worried about weakening the country’s impressively robust indigenous cinema culture/business.