Canal Plus Buys 60% of Bollore's TV Business

French pay TV giant acquires DTT channels Direct 8 and Direct Star.


PARIS - French pay TV giant Canal Plus will take a free ride through the country’s broadcasting market with a 60 percent stake in the Bollore group’s DTT channels Direct 8 and Direct Star, both groups confirmed on Thursday.

Canal Plus will take over operational management of the two free DTT channels and their ad sales division. The investment in the two channels, valued at €465 million ($645 million), will be paid for with Vivendi shares.

Canal Plus is currently the leading pay TV group in France, but is hoping to extend its reach across all broadcasting media with its new presence on the two popular entertainment-oriented niche channels.

The group hopes that a greater presence on both pay and free TV will keep Canal Plus competitive on the market despite the arrival of on demand companies like Apple, Netflix and Google who are increasingly adding video content to their platforms and changing the traditional small screen market in France and across the globe.

“In a context in which these global players have enormous resources and the consumer is confronted with an abundance of choice, the company’s entry into the free television market will enable it to strengthen its capacity to produce distinctive content and enhance its editorial lines with high-quality programs, while using all available operating media to exploit those programs,” Canal Plus group’s CEO Bertrand Meheut said of the merger.

Canal Plus is currently available only by subscription, but will now be able to use its strong content to bring more viewers via a greater access to ads on the free channels and keep it competitive among the DTT networks that continue to attract audiences across the country.

Bollore VP Yannick Bollore added: “This merger would enable our channels to experience further successes in a media industry undergoing rapid changes with the advent of all-digital and the arrival of new operators.”