French pay TV operator Canal+ is experiencing strong growth in Africa, with Q1 results showing Canal+’s African viewer base growing by 612,000 in the year to March 31. The growth in French speaking Africa is offsetting subscriber attrition in metropolitan France although Canal+ says the rate of churn is slowing down.
The pay TV operator has now lost 73,000 net subscribers in France over the year, but international subscribers increased by 685,000 driven by the strong performance in Africa. Canal+ also announced a small amount of growth in collective contracts.
Canal+ reported a global base of 15.327 million subscribers at the end of March, including 8.011 million individual subscribers in France and 6.736 million internationally. Speaking to analysts after parent company Vivendi announced its Q1 results, chief financial officer Hervé Philippe said that Canal+ in France was “recovering with a good commercial trend and improving churn”.
While free-to-air revenues declined for the broadcaster, international TV revenues grew by 5.3%, boosted by 12.3% growth in sales from Africa, despite the absence of coverage of the African Cup of Nations football tournament, which took place in the same quarter last year. Production arm StudioCanal’s revenues grew by 19.2%, boosted by sales of it's successful movie Paddington 2.
In February this year, Canal+ said they have secured African rights for major international and French football competitions for the next few seasons. The move has bolstered its pay TV offering in the French-speaking regions of Africa which include large parts of North Africa. Canal+ has struck deals to acquire the African rights to the UEFA Champions League for three seasons from this year, along with rights to the FIFA World Cup in Russia later this year.