Three leading broadcasters in France are banding together to build Salto, an online subscription video platform, alongside their existing free services. France Télévisions, M6 and TF1 say they intend to provide an ambitious response to what the viewing public now expects, delivering a high-quality, innovative and easy-to-use service. The move by broadcasters is partly in response to the threat of competition from services like Netflix and Amazon.
With a range of subscription packages, the Salto service will offer news, sport, entertainment, drama, series, documentaries and movies. As well as a wide variety of television programmes, both live and on demand, it will also offer exclusive programming and premières. The broadcasters say that Salto will also play an active role in showcasing material from the French and European creative industries and plans from the outset to welcome shows from other broadcasters.
Salto will operate alongside the existing free online platforms of France.tv, 6Play and MYTF1.
A separate company, equally owned by the three groups, will be set up to operate the platform, once clearance has been obtained from the relevant authorities.
The chairs and chief executives of the three broadcasters all expressed their support for what was described as an ambitious digital step change for French broadcasting.
Delphine Ernotte Cunci of France Télévisions described the launch of this joint platform as “a major development for the future of the French broadcasting industry”. She said: “Salto will be able to respond to the challenge of global platforms by offering a high-quality service to all our audiences and showcasing the best of the French and European creative industries.” With an average audience share of 28.3% and 1.3 billion video views across its platforms in 2017, France Télévisions is a dominant player in the French broadcasting landscape.
Nicolas de Tavernost of M6 said: “As a group that has been profoundly committed to adapting to changes in digital technologies and viewing habits for many years, M6 is delighted that the top three French Television groups are joining forces to reflect and even accelerate changes in the TV industry, so that they can deliver what their audiences want.” M6 Group, formed in 1987 around the M6 TV channel, has eight channels. Its 6play online platform, launched in 201, has 21 million registered subscribers and received over a billion video views in 2017.
Gilles Pélisson for the TF1 group said the project was in line with its stated commitment to openness and strategic co-operation with key industry players, both in France and Europe. “In the years ahead, it will give us the weapons we need to meet the challenges we face while meeting viewer expectations ever more effectively.” The TF1 group operates five unencrypted channels and several pay channels.
The name Salto, meaning a backward somersault, is a reference to start-over or catchup services. It has already been called the French Kangaroo, a reference to a joint venture initiative pursued by British broadcasters but blocked by the competition authorities.
The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 are reported to be discussing a similar approach, in the hope that competition regulators will be more favourable. Being able to point to such a project in France will no doubt be beneficial, assuming that also passes regulatory scrutiny.