French Policy prevents Netflix, but Encourages Illegal Downloads


This Post is a Guest Post by Willy Braun. Willy is a Paris-Based blogger from Toulouse, who currently works for EBG,  the biggest professional community in new technologies. He also hosts his own French-language blog, Brocooli.
In France, we LOVE movies & TV shows. But we don’t have an SVOD service like Netflix. Instead, We wait until films come to TV or, more likely, we watch them illegally.
Enter you, saying, “Hey! That’s a great opportunity for Netflix and their competitors.” But as we learn in the startup world: where there is no action, there is a good justification – It’s rarely a matter of having an idea. For the non-believers, consider this: Neflix has expanded into 43 new countries, including some European countries… but not in France!

[Enter French market]

In France, there have always been interventions from the State in the economy to ensure that the market works ‘properly’ and to make sure its citizens benefit from public goods. Culture is one of the numerous sectors where the state plays a big part: in the eyes of the state, every French citizen should enjoy their movie in a theater – French theaters are seen as apart of the cultural identity of France. And so, the State passed laws to make sure films keep being produced & exploited in theaters.
The state, therefore, enforces what we call “media chronology”. This refers to the life cycle of a film, from its release in cinema to when it becomes a free VOD offer. This aims at maximizing the overall revenue and guaranteeing producers their value, distributing the profit fairly between the stakeholders and allowing people to access their cherished content.

Let’s take a closer look…

Day 0: release in the theaters.
4 months: VOD one shot and DVD/Blue Ray (can be downgraded to 3 months under certain conditions)
10 months: first airing on a premium channel like Canal+ if the professional organizations agree to (if not they/we will have to wait 2 more months)
22 months: 2nd airing on a premium channel and first airing on free channel if the coproduction exceed 3,2% of the revenue)
30 months: first airing on free channels for any production
36 months: SVOD
48 months: Free VOD

When everything was simpler, in an era when filmed followed the theater – videocassette – TV lifecycle, this was a viable option. But now, when the world of film and TV is ruled by Netflix’s and Hulu’s…

The Poor French entrepreneur… 

In France, Free Home Video (FHV), the SVOD launched by Free, had a hard time convincing their customers it was a great deal to access unlimited content – perhaps because the unlimited content was 3 year old.
Now Canal+, the biggest French premium channel, is launching Canal Play Infinity, their SVOD offer, unlimited access of movies and series for 9.90€/month. They launched with 2000 movies and 700 episodes, with 50 new episodes/movies being added each month.
The offer is quite expansive when compared to the Netflix prices (almost twice the price than in the US). And on top of that, they still can’t get new content: the most recent movie will be from 2008 – No “The King’s Speech“, just “Asterix at the Olympic Games“..  Good luck Canal+, I don’t think you’ll have to worry about the Netflix in France.

The country paradox

Et Voilà France – A country where the state always tries to protect its citizens and its goods – And it often manages to do it; however the competition between law and innovation persists.
And what will French consumers do? Strike? Complain? No, they’ll just quietly watch their movies and shows…for free, in streaming.

10 Responses

  1. alex

    Great article ! It’s true that in France we have problems with the “MAJOR” in movies or music domains…Too much money to let little entrepreneur take a part of this huge business! Now, final step to watch vod, netflix, is to take a vpn with an american ip…(find one on one day, our government will wake up….Each streaming site close is 10 streaming sites open…Great article “et voila”.

  2. Lucas

    There’s an issue with the exploitation chain… In France there are numerous stakeholders involved in the production of a movie, whereas in the US they is mostly one unique company. They sometimes are partners for the theater release, and then competitors for broadcasting. For instance C+ and France 2. That’s why negotiating the fees and the royalties for any VOD channel is quite impossible. Regulation is not the only reason, it’s also a question of “coopetition”.

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    […] French Policy prevents Netflix, but Encourages Illegal Downloads by @WillyBraun Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  4. VPNfreedom

    Simply use this method to get Netflix in France

  5. JR

    but you need a bank account in the US to pay too

  6. Dave Will Esquivel

    Great Article,as an American recently living abroad in France this same problem had me a bit confused. I understand why they would want to retain some cultural customs but when you look into it more,it sounds like they are more trying to preserve the monopolization of film.

  7. Linda K

    A “country where the state always tries to protect its citizens and its goods – And it often manages to do it” lol what a joke.. it is a socialist country that robs its citizens from any chances of having a decent life, decent anything… high taxes, abusive working conditions, abuse corporate culture, extremely elitist education system, emmployment purely based on nepotism… that’s to list a few…. and of course, monopoly – that’s the second favorite game companies and goverment play in France. Every company has a monopoly of the market. It’s naive to believe otherwise.
    Yes, if you want to see a general doctor it will cost you less ( not free since you pay social security and your boss also pay for you, but much less).. however, you’ll payat least the same as in the US for example for a dentists, glasses, specialized health treatments.. Ah of course, if you dont have any income at all, you get 433 euros per month to live in cities like Paris where sharing a room in a bad neighborhood will cost more than that, so basically you have to choose between having a place to sleep, and having money to eat. Guess what people do? hint: all these homeless people living on the streets get the 433 euros per month.
    What are French people doing meanwhile? try to convince the world that they have a government where” the state always tries to protect its citizens and its goods – And it often manages to do it”
    Btw, I am French. Just not brain dead

  8. Thieu Pham

    Subscribing to a VPN service only allows you to stream content from a single country, whereas a VPN tunnel will allow you bypass restrictions from all filters that means you can stream contents from any country. It also has the benefit of not slowing down your internet speed by routing traffic through a VPN server. VPN services are outdated, VPN tunneling is the present. Complaining about how dumb the French are is like mentioning that feces smells bad, this is a fact, complaining about it does not solve the problem. When you connect to a VPN service, all your internet content must flow through the VPN’s servers, this can lead to a much slower internet experience, VPN tunneling allows you to watch content from any country without slowing down your internet.

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