France’s top two commercial channels, TF1 and M6, have decided to sell their stakes in Salto, the French streaming service, Variety has confirmed. That will leave Salto without two of its three parent companies.
The service, which launched in 2020 after multiple delays, was created by TF1, M6, France Televisions in an effort to give subscribers a local alternative to Netflix (which now has over 13 million subscribers in France) and other global services.
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TF1 and M6’s decision to exit Salto, which was taken during a supervisory board on Nov. 17, appears to be motivated by several factors, including from obligations that were imposed by the anti-trust board which they deemed too burdensome.
With an annual revenue of €17.1 million in 2021, the company was valued at €45 million as of March. The service features catch-up content from 19 different channels belonging to TF1, France Télévisions and M6, as well as premieres of upcoming shows, and fresh content available for streaming.
Sources close to the French TV groups say their idea is to sell their stakes but keep their content available on the service. But with M6 and TF1 out, Salto will be left with France Televisions, the French broadcaster, as its sole owner. But the pubcaster, which is tightening its purse strings, could follow TF1 and M6’s footsteps. France Télévisions president Delphine Ernotte previously said she planned to have France Televisions come off of Salto, after TF1 and M6 announced their merger plans. At that point, TF1 and M6 got back saying they would pick up France Televisions’s take. But after their merger was abandoned due to anti-trust concerns, they opted for a different strategy.
Salto will therefore needs new owners to survive. The question is, who will come on board to rescue Salto? One potential candidate is Canal+ but the Vivendi-owned banner has just entered exclusive negotiations with Orange’s pay TV service OCS and film division Orange Studio.
Salto currently has between 800 000 and 900 000 subscribers, twice as much as in the Spring 2021, according to a report unveiled today (Nov. 21) by OTT NPA Conseil Harris Interactive. But Salto, which is only available as an OTT service, has suffered from its lack of presence on set-top boxes. Salto only boasts a single distribution deal, with the French telco group Bouygues. By comparison, Netflix has deals with all major telco groups, including Canal +, Orange, Free and SFR, the market leaders.
The news was first reported in the French news outlet La Lettre A.
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