Orange’s spending on content falls by €48m

The amount Orange spends on content fell by almost a third in the first quarter of 2011 as the telco and pay TV operator’s plan to move away from buying TV, sport and movie rights kicked in. The company’s outlay on content fell to €108 million in 1Q11 compared with €156 million in the same period last year.

Orange CEO Stephane Richard unveiled a five-year plan last year that involved it scaling back its investment in channels and content. At the time, management said that it does not see itself as a media group.

It had previously invested in premium sports, series and movie rights and was spending about €400 million a year on rights. As well as French soccer rights, it had content deals with Disney, Fox, Warner Bros, Lionsgate and others.

In January orange sought to stem the losses from its movie service with the announcement it would combine its offering with that of Canal Plus-owned TPS Star, creating Ciné Star, which will have an estimated budget of €100 million a year.

France Telecom-owned Orange said that across its footprint, it had 4.4 million pay TV customers at the end of the first quarter, compared with 3.4 million a year earlier. The bulk of these were in France where Orange recorded 3.7 million customers at end-Q1, compared with 2.9 million at the end of the same period in 2010. In Poland the total was 577,000 compared with 477,000 a year earlier.

Overall company revenue for the quarter was €11.2 billion compared with €11.4 billion in 1Q10.