France: Netflix To Get Earlier Dibs On Theatrical Releases Under Revised Windowing System


A long-gestating, hot-button move to revamp France’s arcane windowing system reached an important stage today as a new agreement between TV channels, streamers and the film industry was signed by Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot.

Key among the new measures is that Netflix will have access to films 15 months after their theatrical release, versus the market’s long-held 36-month SVOD waiting period. The streamer has committed to producing at least 10 local films per year, investing about 40M euros ($45M).

A Netflix spokesperson said, “This agreement is a significant first step towards the modernization of the media chronology. It reflects both our constructive contribution to the negotiation process and our commitment to contribute to the French cinema industry.” The new rules will go into effect from February 15, and it is understood there is the possibility Netflix sees the 15-month release window reduced to 12 months when the situation is looked at again next year.

As for other major streamers, while Disney and Amazon are not among the signatories of today’s agreement, their window will be fixed at 17 months.

Canal Plus for its part had already reached a new agreement with French film industry organizations back in early December, as the pay-TV group committed to invest more than 600M euros ($679M) in local and European film across the next three years. The deal also notably advanced the window for Canal, allowing it to offer films six months after their release in theaters, contrary to the previous eight-month delay.

Canal, long the biggest financial contributor to French film production, today said it was pleased to take part in the new media chronology and noted that the agreement provides for a two-month advancement as well as a two-month extension of the duration of the second pay-TV window. This gives subscribers access to films for 16 months, whether they are French, European or international cinema.

French TV networks TF1, M6, France Télévisions and Arté are expected to have to wait 22 months after a film’s theatrical release, with an exclusive window of up to 36 months.

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