French-language TV network TV5Monde is getting ready to push out a direct-to-consumer video service across the region, priced at the local currency equivalent of US$9.99/month.
The all-you-can eat offering, developed by TV5Monde’s Hong Kong office with video tech specialist Movideo, is already up and running, livestreaming the broadcaster’s linear channels, with some social media add-ons on the side.
On-demand programming, alongside more local languages (adding to English, traditional and simplified Chinese subtitles), is next in line.
Operators can also add the app to their own authenticated services, charging subs a nominal fee, although no deals are in place.
It’s a play to get more audience segments paying for TV5Monde programming, a move which could pave the way for more targeted offerings in the future.
The network distributes four linear channels in Asia-Pacific: two broad-based services catering to different time zones, Asie and Pacifique; and two thematic brands, Info for news and Style for lifestyle.
A new kids channel, expected to make its debut in Africa this month, should launch in Asia-Pacific sometime next year, becoming part of the OTT offering in the process.
Info, meanwhile, is provided free online, to allow potential customers to sample the quality of the video streaming.
Subscriber traction could enable a sharper positioning of TV5Monde’s mainstream channels for local audiences. More shows intended for expats, for example, could be taken off linear and made available online.
“I’ve got many targets,” TV5Monde’s Asia-Pacific MD, Alexandre Muller (pictured below), tells Media Business Asia.
“I’ve got French expats, French-speaking expats, the Francophones, the French learners, the travellers – they are all expecting something different,” he adds.
“It’s like you have one dart with the channel, but several targets.”
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Asie and Pacifique are designed as terrestrial offerings, broadcasting fresh content for around 14 hours each day. They operate in a largely thematic environment however, where programming spans multiple windows.
TV5Monde has a wealth of original content to draw on, Muller notes, which could also be used to develop additional linear services for both traditional and broadband distribution.
That range could help reposition the broadcaster's flagship linear channel as a window for global French content, flanked by more thematic offerings tailored for local viewers.
“We have enough great documentaries to make a documentary channel, we have enough programmes for a kids channel, we have enough movies for a movie channel, together with TV dramas and TV series,” Muller says.
While many operators will opt for a limited selection, others are looking for a broader offering.
“IPTV content aggregators like FetchTV want me to have four to five channels to make a package,” Muller says.
“This is the difficulty. You have different demand from different markets.”
Ultimately, Paris will take the call on new channels, although a successful SVOD rollout – in APAC as well as other regions worldwide – could pique interest from both subscribers and platforms.
An earlier broadband foray with Softbank in Japan, now discontinued, preceded cable and satellite distribution for example, culminating last year in a place on the extended basic pack for the country’s biggest cable operator, J:Com.
The new OTT service had been geared up to launch last year. It was put on hold in April, however, after the main broadcast and digital infrastructure in Paris was temporarily taken over by hackers claiming to represent terrorist group Isis.
Now the rollout is back on track. Muller is about to embark on a marketing drive after some earlier tactical promotions for the fledgling service.
It's part of a new wave of TV, leveraging broadband to connect with niche audiences who are willing to pay a premium, but are spread across multiple markets.
“If I had 100,000 subs I would be happy, that would be good enough,” Muller says.
“It depends how fast I can deploy what I have in mind – catch-up TV rights, VOD. We’ve had to modify and change a lot of equipment since last year’s cyber-attack.”