In theory, France has many of the necessary ingredients for a vibrant and growing over-the-top (OTT) video entertainment market -- a high broadband penetration rate, pay-TV operators that are active in multi-screen video, and good prospects for available mobile data apps.
But there are many obstacles that service providers must overcome. Regulatory hurdles, like France's relatively strict Chronology of Media, or content windowing legislation -- which impacts Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) services -- limits the upside growth potential of many OTT movie services.
"In relatively strong OTT markets like North America SVOD services like Netflix are significant revenue contributors to the overall market segment. France’s strict content windowing for SVOD, however, creates a challenging environment to replicate similar successes," said Michael Inouye, senior analyst at ABI Research.
Despite these challenges, online video services like Dailymotion (owned by Orange) and YouTube remain strong players along with offerings from broadcasters and pay-TV operators like Canal+ Group, TF1 Group, France Télévisions, and M6 Group.
The strong penetration rate and competitive environment around IPTV video services in France have led to deployment of highly advanced set-top boxes, which contributes to content consumption habits extending beyond linear programming.
However, operator-owned multiscreen services are still developing at a slower pace than the U.S. or UK markets, as operators struggle to offer catch-up TV, video on demand and live TV to devices like tablets and select connected consumer electronics (CE) devices like game consoles.
ABI believes that the French OTT market has seen earlier and more significant developments from broadcasters and less from Pay-TV operators, compared to the U.S. and UK markets.
Independent OTT platforms, including Videofutur, could be augmented by international offerings if companies like Netflix and Amazon enter the market.
If content windows remain an issue, original programming could become a differentiator for OTT subscription services to keep content fresh and viewers engaged.
For instance, new programming like Amazon's 'Alpha House' and the Netflix partnership with Disney to produce original Marvel programming could attract French viewers while respecting content windowing legislation.