The French media group Vivendi says that it cannot continue to finance the losses of Canal+ channels in France. Subscriber numbers for these channels have fallen by over a million in four years. Vivendi plans to gain more subscribers by investing in programming and the customer experience. Its pay television offer lost over 300,000 subscribers in mainland France in 2015, but gained half a million in Africa.
Subscriptions to the Canal+ channels in mainland France fell from 9.56 million at the end of 2012 to 8.46 million at the end of 2015. Revenues declined from €3.59 billion to €3.38 billion a year over the same period, while losses rose to €264 million in 2015.
Vivendi says the arrival of new national and international players in the areas of sports and fiction caused a surge in the price of content broadcasting rights and has increased the number of competing offers, leading to greater losses.
Announcing full year results, the company warned investors that this threatens the entire Canal+ Group, which employs 8,200 people and is a major player in the financing and development of the movie industry, in which it invests globally close to €800 million both in France and internationally.
Vivendi is implementing a transformation plan to regain the perceived value of the channels, by investing in original programming, through partnerships with European peers and telcos, and by investing in the customer experience with new set-top boxes, online services and evolution of the user interface.
The company says the priority is to return to growth in subscribers and revenues. It says it aims to break even in 2018 and to achieve profitability similar to the best European players in the sector in the medium term.
It has also entered into an exclusive distribution agreement with beIN Sports, a global network of sports channels owned and operated by beIN Media Group, based in Doha, Qatar.
Canal+ reported that individual subscribers rose from 11.05 million to 11.24 million in 2015. Of these, subscriptions in mainland France fell by 316,000 from 6.06 million to 5.75 million, with annual churn increasing from 14.5% to 14.9%. International subscriptions rose by over half a million from 4.99 million to 5.46 million.
This was mainly driven by growth in over 30 countries Africa, where subscriptions rose from 1.55 million to 2.07 million, with revenues of €400 million in 2015.
Canal+ also has 2.12 million subscribers in Poland, although the number declined by 27,000 in 2015.
Vivendi earns 42% of its revenues in France. Over half its revenue comes from the Canal+ Group. Its other interests include Universal Music Group, a leader in recorded music.