A new service, launched in France, aims to revolutionise the way consumers watch live television. Molotov.tv, which offers consumers a single place online to access all content available on the nation’s digital terrestrial network, has signed partnerships with 33 free-to-air TV channels in the country including TF1, France Télévisions, M6, Canal+ and others.
Publicly available channels form the basic offering, available to Molotov.tv customers at no charge. The service also offers cloud storage to record programs and access on demand at any later point. Monetisation is achieved by offering customers extended content packages with premium channels available for €9.99 per month, and extra cloud storage for €3.99 per month.
The interface and comprehensive search functions allow customers to quickly browse through and access the dynamic library of content up to 15 days in advance of broadcast. Selected content is automatically added to the user's personal cloud, and anything aired in the past seven days can be accessed on demand. There is no permanent library of content outside of that although programmes recorded in the cloud can be saved for future viewing.
The service is available through various platforms: PC/Mac, Apple TV, LG/Samsung smart TVs, and Android/iOS devices.
Molotov.tv initially attracted attention being founded by three high profile industry figures: creator of popular film information portal AlloCiné Jean-David Blanc, co-founder of Canal+ Pierre Lescure, and former director of strategy and innovation at TF1 Jean-Marc Denoual. Extensive media exposure during the two-year development process created high levels of awareness of the product in the addressable market, and according to the company blog more than hundred thousand individuals have registered their interest during the beta testing phase. If true, a rapid initial uptake of the service will now follow.
Molotov.tv is not the first over-the-top service to propose new ways to enjoy live television. Play van KPN attempted a similar thing in the Dutch market, but failed to gain popularity due to low awareness and poor delivery on the technical side. Molotov.tv, however, is unique in the way that it has a clear and simple offering, and seems to deliver its core functionality well as judged the by initial reception it has received.
The service offers a strong free core proposition, with content that is uncompromised in scope of channels and audio-visual quality. Assuming the interface works as intended, and the back-end of the service has reliable infrastructure in place, IHS expects significant numbers of French consumers to alter their current television watching habits by taking up Molotov.tv.
The subscription price of €9.99 per month, including premium networks, makes the service comparable to Netflix or CanalPlay. The library of content at any given moment is limited when compared to these services, but Molotov.tv has a continuously changing selection that is replaced at the rate at which content appears on live television. Furthermore, in the light of media chronology laws, Molotov.tv also has a significant advantage over conventional SVoD models, in that movies can appear on SVoD platforms only with one year delay from the time their respective broadcast windows open for public television networks, or in the case of premium television networks with a two year delay.
Molotov.tv offers material straight from France's domestic networks, thus catering specifically for French viewers. Having libraries that have little overlap, it is more likely that Molotov.tv will complement an existing Netflix or CanalPlay subscription, rather than act as a substitute for it. Advertising in the television content may deter some Molotov.tv customers; however it will be possible to manually skip ads in non-live content by fast-forwarding.
Apple had made a promotional push for the service following its release through its customer facing channels in the French market, reflecting the fact that it adds particular value to Apple TV by offering live television in a way even advanced set-top boxes are currently unable to. Samsung and LG were also able to recognise the value for their smart TVs, having signed agreements to include Molotov.tv months in advance of its launch. Multi-platform support is especially important in the French market where set-top boxes dominate the television watching habits.
IHS expects high penetration of the total addressable market in a relatively short time due to the attractiveness of the default free offer. Take-up of the premium subscription package is expected to be limited initially, as consumer will avoid paying for the same content twice already having a TV subscription in place, often bundled together into single package with internet. Premium television usually costs upwards of €20 per month, and Molotov.tv seems like an attractive option, which will with time win more customers over.