The Future’s Bright, the Future’s Orange. Well, unless you’re Canal….. One of the biggest stories this week was the surprise confirmation of French press reports that Orange is to set up its own DTH platform. On second thoughts, this is not such a surprise. Last week, the France Telecom company also made bids for all twelve lots from the Ligue 1 of French football. Live games, highlights, mobile clips, Orange wants them all - while Canal only bid for ten of the lots. Without your own platform, you wouldn’t need those rights, right? Wrong!
As the largest French operator France Telecom has built its Orange brand for mobile, IP television and broadband access. The perfect match for multiplay offers – but since the merger of the TPS and CanalSat platforms, Vivendi not only controls the Canal group, but also owns mobile operator SFR and has recently acquired broadband ISP Neuf/Cegetel. Not good news for Orange, so it is only natural the operator wants more control over content.
Step one is to go into the content business to acquire the best possible programming such as live football, step two is to create your own television platform to be less dependent on the willingness of your biggest competitor to let you have access to their content. Of course, the official reason now given by Orange is that they want to reach all their customer with television, not just the people in areas served by DSL.
Interesting detail: although the French DTH market is now monopolised by Canal, there still is another platform, that of the Groupe AB, which was recently relaunched as Bis with most of the DTT channels. Maybe just created to be the perfect take-over subject for the new Orange venture? We’ll watch the developments in France with growing interest – it doesn’t happen every day when a leading DTH platform is challenged by a formidable player such as Orange!