French broadcaster goes all out with SVoD amid ad pressure

National broadcaster France Télévisions is entering the SVoD game, hinting that the company is feeling the pressure from poor commercial TV advertising performance, despite the extra support it receives from TV licensing fees.

The state-owned broadcaster has kept it local, selecting French OTT technology vendor Arkena to build the new subscription service which will slide into its platform, using Arkena’s Cloud4TV technology. This provides the back office system which it says will allow France Télévisions to handle large volumes of content for multiscreen broadcast, refreshing content on a weekly basis.

Arkena is also supplying the integration layer with “several technical partners,” including Dutch firm Cleeng which will handle subscriber management and financial reporting tools.

Just last week, France Télévisions selected Imagine Communications to supply a modular playout system for overseas viewers, but Arkena told Faultline Online Reporter that Imagine has no involvement in the new SVoD service.

Instead, France Télévisions is installing 28 Versio playout systems from Imagine for its France Ô service, incorporating server, graphics, subtitling and master control switching. Regions include French Guiana in South America, Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Caribbean, Mayotte and Réunion in the Indian Ocean, French Polynesia and New Caledonia, and Wallis and Futuna in the Pacific Ocean.

Arkena has its own playout technology, which it inherited from Cognacq-Jay Image along with a CMS, and it then merged these with technologies from Poland’s PSN (radio playout), Qbrick from Sweden (hosted online video platform, which was behind HBO Go Nordics), and SmartJog (cloud storage and asset management).

Arkena recently dropped the CDN part of its offering due to rising costs associated with delivery, and what it does well is piece together bits of the OTT ecosystem in combination with its own technologies, for example using Ateme or Elemental for encoding and itself providing a CMS.

We also asked Arkena how the upcoming SVoD launch would effect France Télévisions’ deal with Numericable, supplying content for the Zive SVoD service, but the company could not comment on this, nor could it provide us with an estimated launch date.

Last year, conventional TV advertising at France Télévisions stagnated,  with revenues up just 0.4% to €3.2 billion ($3.9 billion), compared to internet ad revenues of €3.5 billion ($4.1 billion), up 7.4%.

France Télévisions’ free catch-up portal, Francetv Pluzz, uses the ViaMotion system from French VoD specialist Anevia to power its multiscreen platform.

“Arkena’s proven experience in the development of OTT platforms and the maturity of its solution enable us to move confidently forward with this strategic project for France Télévisions, with strong expectations in terms of customer experience and very tight deadlines,” said Julien Verley, CEO of France Télévisions SVOD. “The proximity of the teams and their responsiveness enable them to respond to our needs. Focusing on the quality of service ensures that we provide our users with the best possible experience.”