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Altice to invest in originals, new US services

Altice founder Patrick Drahi plans to produce original series in France from next year that he hopes to distribute globally via the company’s distribution networks to its 46 million subscribers.

Speaking to journalists in New York on the completion of Altice’s acquisition of Cablevision, Drahi said that he believed Altice Media could create series for less than the €20 million (US$22.8 million) spent on Netflix’s Marseille, the streaming video-on-demand provider’s French original.

Drahi also that said he wants to launch his Israeli news channel i24 in New York within the next 12 months, and plans to create a US studio and hire American as well as French journalists to work on the service.

The media and telecoms tycoon said that he also planned to launch a bouquet of French channels on Cablevision’s network to serve Francophone residents of New York. This would include French news service BFM TV. Drahi said that he aimed to distribute all the channels that the company had rights for and a number of documentaries produced by Altice Media as part of the bouquet.

Drahi said that he would invest several millions of dollars over four years to improve the networks of Cablevision and Suddenlink, Altice’s earlier US cable acquisition. He said the latter was already the US’s most profitable cable operator, operating at a 43% margin.

Drahi also told journalists that his ambition in the US was to one of the three top cable players. Altice Media is currently the number four operator in the country following the Cablevision acquisition, and Drahi is known to be interested in acquiring number three player Cox Communications. However, he told journalist that further acquisitions were not “a subject for 2016” and that any further expansion would depend on Altice successfully reducing its debts.

Drahi rejected any comparison between his entry into the US market and that of a previous French executive, Jean-Marie Messier, pointing out that he owned 65% of Altice, while Messier had been appointed to head a public company in which he had a negligible personal stake.