Orange courts Vivendi partnership

Orange is discussing a merger with Vivendi’s Canal Plus that would end a two-year battle for dominance of the French pay TV market.
The deal would bring Orange’s Cinema Series platform and Canal Plus’ TPS Star film channel together in a 50:50 joint venture, and could be announced Thursday when Orange parent France Telecom reports 2Q results, French daily Le Figaro reports.
Orange has pulled in almost half a million subscribers to its video-on-demand service in the two years since launching, with users paying €12 per month to access content from Studio 37, Warner and HBO.
The business is worth an estimated €200 million, Le Figaro said.
Discussions on a separate deal to merge Orange Sports with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp are progressing well, the French daily said, with the carrier presenting a good opportunity for Murdoch to enter a market he considers overly complicated.
However, all deals on the table must first clear French competition authorities, a move that Reuters says is likely because it would open Orange’s pay TV content up to a wider audience beyond its fixed-line broadband customers.
France Telecom CEO Stephane Richard revealed the carrier would seek partners for its pay TV service while outlining the firm’s strategy for the next five years earlier this month.
He said the aim was to boost the content available to Orange’s customers, but that “becoming a media or press group is not our calling.”