MIPTV: Vivendi Launches Production Label for Mobile Series

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Vivendi chairman Vincent Bollore

StudioPlus will launch with 25 television-quality series in September.

As the small screen gets even smaller, Vivendi announced the launch of StudioPlus, a new production arm devoted entirely to developing original series for mobile.

“We want to connect with that audience for which mobile is the first screen and be consistent. Mobile first, mobile only,” said Vivendi content head Dominique Delport.

Delport, StudioPlus’ CEO Gilles Galud and chair Manuel Alduy announced the ambitious new project in a press conference at MIPTV.

The service will launch in September across 20 countries in Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America with 25 new scripted series, each with 10 episodes of five to 10 minutes. Series are produced in French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Italian, and all will be subtitled in the local language.

Series titles include drama Amnesia, action series Brutal and Urban Jungle, and thrillers including Kill Skills and Madame Hollywood.

The launch marks a significant investment in mobile content for Vivendi, with each series costing roughly $1.13 million (€1 million) to produce, Delport said.

“We have no issue about monetization,” Delport said. “We’re absolutely convinced there is a way [to monetize], but it’s a bet. It’s a challenge. We need to demonstrate what we can do. So there is first an investment from Viviendi.”

Vivendi has been sitting on a war chest of billions after selling off several of its own telco companies as chair Vincent Bollore moves to revamp it into a media and content company.

StudioPlus will function as an app specifically for phones and tablets, and will partner with local telcos that will have the ability to hard anchor the app on the home screen. The monetization process will be up to each telco, Delport said.

“It’s designed for them and with them,” Delport said about the telcos they are partnering with. The telco partners will be announced sometime in the summer, and the service will expand to additional markets in 2017.

Alduy added that they would acquire up to 20 additional series. Documentaries, animation, romance, sci-fi and comedy projects are among the 60 additional shows in the pipeline. It is also working on developing Deep, a series that will be shot in VR.

Though he said he hopes “the CanalPlus DNA is something that we can build on,” Delport stressed that it is a stand-alone production label. If there is a breakout hit, a series could eventually be adapted into a longform program for CanalPlus' linear channels or as a film project for StudioCanal, but that is “not our primary goal,” Delport said.

StudioPlus also will seek to develop synergies with Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, he said, and the studio will leverage Vivendi's YouTube competitor DailyMotion for promotional purposes.

StudioCanal will sell the series in territories where the app is not available.