Altice is making its premium channel, Altice Studio, available online, one month after its launch as a linear service. In addition to being included as a bundled TV proposition for its top two tier packages (out of five total tiers), Altice Studio will be available as a standalone proposition for €9.99 ($12) per month without a contract.
Last year, Altice created a film and TV production division with the same name, earmarking a reported €40 million for film production. The company also co-produced TV series Riviera with Sky Vision and further enhanced its pay TV proposition with rights to sports including the Premier League and Champions League, in addition to carriage agreement with Discovery and exclusivity agreement with NBC Universal.
Altice, which continues to operate under the SFR brand in France, has chosen not to licence content from Altice Studio to other industry platforms, retaining exclusive rights.
The move to make Altice Studio available on a standalone basis, while retaining exclusive rights for its content, outlines Altice’s long-term vision for the future of the industry. The fact that customers, even those subscribed to a different operator, will now be able to receive Altice Studio’s content a la carte, means that viewers will be granted choice to build their own basket of services. By ensuring Altice Studio is offering original and exclusive content, Altice is positioning the service to complement other video services, notably Netflix and other pay TV players, as an additional package.
The present strategy goes against the one that has been widely adopted by the industry in the past, of essentially bundling services together to be sold as a single package, or as an extension limited to existing customers. The present development signifies movement in the opposite direction, at least in the area of thematic content for the French market. This will undoubtedly be beneficial from a consumer perspective, granting viewers a less restricted choice and acting as an additional incentive for content creators to produce better quality work.
For Altice’s line of television services, Altice Studio will come in addition to the existing online subscription offer SFR Play. The existing video service was launched bundled with pay TV subscription in November 2015, under the name of Zive. Currently, it is included in the top four tiers of pay TV subscriptions (out of five total tiers). Since 2017, SFR Play has also been available as a standalone proposition for €9.99 per month, without commitment. IHS Markit research indicates that standalone offer enjoys limited popularity, with fewer than 12,000 subscribers forecast by the end of the year.
It is important to note that SFR has also not allowed CanalPlay, the popular SVoD service from Canal Plus (Free purchased a 20% stake in CanalPlay in August 2017), to be integrated with the company's set-top boxes. CanalPlay is available on virtually all other set-top boxes in the market. Altice, therefore, sees CanalPlay as a dangerously compelling offer when put alongside SFR Play. The operator has still chosen to allow to distribute Netflix, seeing that failure to do so would dangerously limit customers’ experience with their set-top boxes.