24 Jun


FIST Originals team caught up with Sebastien Audoux, Head of Sports at Canal OTT (Canal+) ahead of the upcoming Future of Media Panel at the F.IS.T. LONDON on 28 June, 2019.

Sebastien, you said that Canal+ had gone through a bigger transformation in the past year than in the last 25 years. What transformations were those and what impact did it have on the stakeholders?

We changed everything. We used to have historically two big divisions at Canal+, being the commercial and editorial side with two buildings. One where we are making the TVs and other where they are selling the subscriptions. This method was seen as outdated for 2018 so we decided to merge the two divisions into one. This meant the departments would unite, for example the marketing from both sides become one function in one place.

Moreover, we changed our entire business model. We used to have one huge offer for 15€ with different options on top of that and the entry level was around 40€ per month.

We are now sold with a Telcom operator package which is free which gave away a canal+ subscription to every customer they had so Canal+ gained 3M subscribers by doing that. We aren’t making much money from those subscribers, but they are potential customers to work with and offer personalized packages in the future.

Canal+ also launched a new offer without any engagement which had never been done before. This meant you could cancel at any time (first month free). Previously, we used to only have 12-month engagement packages having a major part of that clientele being engaged for at least 24 months. You can now subscribe through OTT and through the App Store (New) at anytime, anywhere.

Launch a start-up package at 9.90€ per month (under 10€) which goes to show a big jump in offerings/packages available and the pricing strategy. From traditional models of 50€ to under 10€.

We used to be totally linear driven, where the OTT platform was built as a replay platform for the linear TV. We now changed the model where there is content being produced on myCanal before it is even up on linear TV. My Canal now has its own exclusive content. All originals and premium production are now on myCanal and customers no longer have to wait for next week episodes since full series are released in an instant.

All these changes happened so fast! Were these transformations due to Canal+ listening to what customers where asking for?

Yes exactly. Just like Netflix is doing now with their own content.

Another change was because of Canal+ dominant position in France where it was Canal+ telling and dictating what the customers should watch and what they should pay.

Now it’s the other way around as we are humbler. We are listening to the customers and asking them what they like, what do they want to watch, what do you think is a fair price, do you prefer English football, or do you prefer the French league 1 etc.

So obviously OTT brings a lot of data layer on top of that which we didn’t have before. Linear TV offered limited customer information but now with OTT, you know exactly what the subscribers are doing. For example: how many times they’re watching football and for how long, do they prefer watching highlights etc. Buying those rights could be a big opportunity to get to know our customers and make them happy in the end goal.

We are now making more educated decisions on what to buy, how to buy it, and most importantly what type of content should be produced.

Seems like you are capturing a lot of individual customer data from what you’re doing, so are there any specific marketing channels that you are using to directly engage with these consumers? For example, surveys, interviews, focus groups?

Yes, very much, traditional methods such as surveys, interviews etc was the only way to know what customers were doing.  OTT has now opened a whole new door of data telling us what they watch and their patterns within that channel. With this information, we can tailormade the experience for them. As was mentioned this morning with the rest of the panel board, personalization is huge in the years to come. The goal is for us to push the right content for them without the customer having to do anything.

What do you think has caused such a sudden Boom in the industry? Because technology has been around for already quite some time but why suddenly now? Has it been competition?

Netflix: The first-trigger that completely disrupted the industry.

Canal+ has 50% based-movies and 50% based on sports. Netflix took a huge movie-market in France and is still growing to new extents. Therefore, we had to re-think our model.

Would you say the greatest innovation for Canal+ (or in fact other OTT platforms) to this day is and will continue to be the algorithmic model that tailors content to every client?

I would not say it is the most important because personalization has two parts: the way you can push content with what you already know and the two-way channel where we ask what the client prefers (PSG or Marseille, want notification turned on or off). Nevertheless, it is something everyone has to do to stay relevant in the market today. It is what Amazon and other players are doing.

The biggest difference is being able to sell exactly what the customers want and not massive packages of stuff in which 90% of it is lost because someone who loves football will pay 50€ to just watch football. These clients would prefer paying half the price for just football, which when you think of it is huge. 25€ just for football is a huge amount for just one content. This is what Media pro is telling others that it will sell their channel for just 25€ per month.

In the end, this is just something you need to do to stay alive.

Lastly, considering you were the chief editor of the golf+ channel, from a B2B perspective, do you keep up with all of their innovations and changes within their industry? Or is it more independent alliances where they do their things and you do yours? Do you keep up with new technologies the PGA tour are adopting and try pushing it out to the audience in order to make the content more appealing?

Yes of course. When you are doing a Sports Channel like Golf, you really have to be close with the PGA tour and European tours. Therefore, everything those professionals and associations are doing in terms of innovation are at some point relevant to what we are doing which is showing their sport. Finally, most of the sport innovations can be applied to broadcasting and that is very true for golf.

I would like to express my greatest appreciation for Sebastien Audoux’s availability and his share of knowledge whilst educating us how Canal+ and his competitors are preparing for this major disruption within their industry. Additionally, I would like to acknowledge with much appreciation the commitment of Ryan McCumber.

Written by Quentin Patrouillard, Jan ‘19  for FIST ORIGINALS

Sébastien Audoux – Head of Sports at Canal OTT


Quentin Patrouillard

Quentin P. is a master’s student at Loughborough University London, studying Sports Business and Innovation with a background in Marketing and Economics. He is supporting the F.I.S.T Global Series