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Canal+ sees French subs base decline

French pay TV outfit Canal+’s performance in the first nine months of the year was boosted by strong performances in Africa and Vietnam and by the Canalplay SVOD service in France, but the group was hit by a decline in its French pay TV base.

Canal+Canal+ Group added 619,000 subscribers in the year to September 30, taking its total to 15.4 million, while revenues grew slightly by 1.7% to €4.03 billion (US$4.03 billion).

On an analyst call after parent company Vivendi posted its results, executive VP and head of corporate development Laurent Mairot said the company had 1.7 million subscribers in Africa.

The group’s pay TV subscriber base in France dropped significantly, and revenues from pay TV in France were down 1.9% in what the company called “a difficult economic and competitive environment”.

On the same analyst call, Vivendi CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine said that the Canalplay base is now about 770,000 but declined to disclose Canal+’s pay TV numbers in France.

International pay TV revenues, by contrast, grew by 7.6% over the period. Production arm StudioCanal’s revenues grew by 12.9%.

Operational income dropped sharply, from €633 million to €554 million, for the first nine months. EBITA dropped from €626 million to €550 million. Canal+ said the change was due to increased programming costs, including the French Rugby Top 14 championship, and transitional costs related to the company’s change in structure.

On the Vivendi analyst call, CFO Herve Philippe said that the company was working to “create the conditions for a more efficient business cost-wise” and to invest in “a way that will rebuild a solid base for the future”. He said that the group would more closely integrate the StudioCanal business with Canal+ under the leadership of Didier Lupfer.