Canal Plus will complete its transition to digital terrestrial when the analogue signal serving the Ile de France region is switched off tomorrow. Any subscribers receiving the premium channel over-the-air will lose their service unless they switch to digital terrestrial or other forms of reception - satellite, cable or IPTV. Canal Plus parent Vivendi reported that about 100,000 households were receiving analogue signals at the end of Q2. However, Canal Plus said that it expects that only around 10,000 subscribers will lose their service altogether. Another 30,000 Canal Plus subscribers receive the channel via an analogue satellite feed from the AB Group. This feed is expected to be switched off in Q1 next year.
The pay TV group ceased actively marketing analogue subscriptions in 2009. Instead of subscribing to a single premium channel via analogue, customers were offered two further channels - Canal Plus Sport and Canal Plus Cinema - via digital terrestrial. As of Q3 2010, Canal Plus reported 5.5 million subscribers in France, in overseas departments (the 'DOM/TOM'), and Africa. One-third of the premium channels' subscribers also take the CanalSat channel bouquet.
The frequency used by Canal Plus in Ile de France, France's most populous region containing the capital, Paris, will be re-allocated for digital radio transmissions. Full analogue switch off for the region is due to take place in March 2011.
The long-anticipated ending of analogue transmissions of Canal Plus, Europe's longest established pay TV service, is a significant milestone but not one which will have a major impact on the company's business. Cost savings will be marginal and the loss of income from subscribers should be not too difficult to absorb given the 248,000 increase in the Canal Plus/CanalSat subscriber portfolio reported in the year to 30 September.
Unlike other pay operators, Canal Plus uses its premium channel as the focus of its pay-TV offering, showcasing exclusive sport events and films. The three-channel Canal Plus package on digital terrestrial remains the lowest-cost package, priced at €30 a month and including HD and access to the VoD service Canal Plus a la demande via PC. The cheapest cable, IPTV or satellite option starts from €35 a month with an additional €7 fee for HD.
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