After months of speculation, US TV and film streaming service Netflix officially announced Wednesday it will be launching in France later this year, despite barriers posed by a raft of French protectionist legislation.
The company said its French launch would come “in late 2014” as part of a wider push into the European market that will also see it begin offering services in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg.
Netflix, which already operates in Britain, Scandinavia and the Netherlands, will offer a mix of Hollywood movies and TV series in the new markets and plans to include its own original shows, such as “House of Cards”, where possible.
“Upon launch, broadband users in these countries can subscribe to Netflix and instantly watch a curated selection of Hollywood, local and global TV series and movies, including critically-acclaimed Netflix original series, whenever and wherever they like on TVs, tablets, phones, game consoles and computers,” said Netflix.
Exact details on launch dates and pricing have yet to be announced, but French daily Le Figaro reported that Netflix would arrive in France in mid-September with a monthly subscription price of less than 10 euros ($14.68).
That would put the cost in a similar region to Netflix’s other European services. In the Netherlands, for example, a subscription costs 8.99 euros ($12.31) a month, while in Britain Netflix costs 5.99 pounds ($10.09).
The decision to go ahead with a French launch follows months of contentious negotiations between Netflix executives and the French government, which has put pressure on the US company to meet a number of rules designed to protect the French TV and film industry from foreign competition – the so-called "Cultural Exception".
For example, existing video-on-demand (VOD) companies are barred from streaming films until three years after their cinema release, while streaming services based in France with annual earnings of more than 10 million euros are required to hand over 15 percent of their revenues to the European film industry and 12 percent to French filmmakers.
Netflix will also face competition from already established VOD companies in France, such as Canal Play Infinity, offered by Vivendi’s Canal+.
Since it launched its streaming service in 2007, Netflix has become the world's leading Internet television network, boasting more than 48 million members in more than 40 countries.
Netflix says it streams more than a billion hours, collectively, of digital films and television shows to online viewers each month.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-05-21