Salto, the platform of France Televisions, TF1 and M6, will (finally) start, after several postponements, on October 20, but already has several handicaps. Thursday, during a press conference, which looked more like a commercial presentation and where no question from journalists (asked in writing) was retained, the leaders of Salto focused their presentation on the few new programs of the future platform, which will however only represent a minor part of its content.
The paid platform, which aims to offer the “Best of French creation”, will in fact mostly offer programs from its parent channels, already seen for free, on television and in replay. There will also be some previews of French series such as “They were ten”, the possibility of viewing daily soap operas 48 hours in advance and unpublished foreign fictions, in France, such as “Exit” or “Evil”, as well. than cinema.
Another weak point: initially, Salto will not have its own content. However, the platform intends to offer them from April 2021: it participates in particular in the financing of documentaries, such as “La Secte”, or of the fiction “Germinal” (co-produced by France Télévisions and RAI, in particular), to have them forward -first in France.
No details on the economic model
No details were given on the business model and targets. “If Salto reaches 1 million subscribers in three years without the boxes, we can say that it is a success. By comparison, TV Now and Videoland, of the RTL group in Germany and the Netherlands, have a total of nearly 1.8 million subscribers ”, comments François Godard, at Enders Analysis. To compare, Netflixhe, who landed in France in September 2014, had around 700,000 subscribers for his first birthday and communicated about 7 million at the start of 2020; MyCanal also has 5 million subscribers.
Either way, Salto comes at a time when competition is stiff with Netflix, MyCanal, Disney +, Amazon Prime Video, and more. who gained even more power during the lockdown. Their financial firepower allows them to buy or produce essential programs… which will moreover be more and more “made in France”, with new obligations to make them part of the cultural exception. However, opposite, Salto only has a contained budget of 250 million over three years – a figure not confirmed by the company but never denied either. Salto is also behind on its forecasts: its leaders promised 15,000 hours from the launch, it will ultimately only be 10,000.
Agreements with telecom operators, but not immediately
Above all, Salto will not be able to benefit from the strike force of Canal +, the leading distributor of channels and services in France, which does not seem frankly willing to sign a distribution contract with a competitor … Nor will it have the leisure to enter homes via the boxes of telecom operators, being for the time broadcast only in OTT. Its leaders, however, claim to have signed with “telcos”, without wanting to specify who …
As for the price, it does not offer real attractiveness compared to the competition. The first offer at 6.99 euros for a screen (and up to 12.99 euros for four users) “Is the same as that of Disney +, while the catalog is much less rich! “ notes François Godard. The package at Netflix starts at 7.99 euros (up to 15.99 euros).
In recent months, the parent companies of Salto, which forged an unprecedented alliance for a digital platform in France, have clearly claimed their ambition to build an alternative to Netflix, a strong project, supposed to strengthen French creation. However, their absence at the Salto presentation conference on Thursday – only video messages from Delphine Ernotte (president of France Télévisions), Gilles Pélisson (general manager of TF1) and Nicolas de Tavernost (president of the M6 board of directors) were broadcast – has been noticed.
“It will be complicated for a TF1 or an M6 to favor Salto … even if it means weakening”, comments a good connoisseur. “There are going to be a lot of dilemmas. And all the more so since the groups have distribution contracts with telecom operators which oblige them to have quality replay ”, press another. Not to mention that the Competition Authority has placed obstacles on the supply of parent companies. In short, nothing is won.