Historically seen as rivals, Netflix and France’s Canal Plus are in discussions on a distribution partnership, sources close to the situation have confirmed to Deadline. The talks were first reported by French daily Le Figaro which said a plan could be finalized in the coming weeks.
The negotiations are understood to surround Netflix becoming an extra option to Canal subscribers in France, though the streaming service could also potentially be bundled into package offers. Canal has previously, if reluctantly, partnered with its competitors including BeIN Sports and OCS. A deal with Netflix would expand its offer while giving the American giant access to subscribers beyond its current local base of 5M. Netflix already has agreements with French telecom operators Bouygues, Orange, SFR and Free.
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A tie-up is also seen as a safeguard in the face of the impending arrival of new services like Disney+ and AppleTV+.
Canal Plus has faced pressure from a declining subscriber base and deep-pocketed competitors for sports rights. It now has fewer subscribers in France than Netflix. The group has cut costs over the past few years, resulting in increased profitability in 2018, though revenues were slightly down in the first half of 2019. It shuttered its SVOD service CanalPlay last year and in March this year launched a series-only streaming service in France as it looked to claw back some of the online market being devoured by others.
Canal in July said it was cutting its staff, with up to 492 people expected to depart. Given the shifting landscape, Canal said streamlining was essential in order to “transform towards digitalization and increase agility in the organization.”
Sports rights have also been an issue with competition. Mediapro recently secured rights to French Premiere League football.