Netflix’s arrival in France has been anything but smooth, and it seems the rough bumps are far from over. After discussions with the French government fell apart and Netflix decided to operate in France out of Luxembourg, avoiding any cultural taxes that France might impose, the French government vowed to make life for Netflix as difficult as possible.
Despite announcement of production of a French TV Show, Netflix’s September has been preempted by Amazon-competitor Rakutens’ launch of Wuaki.tv in France just one week before – Rakuten has been quite strong in France after its 2011 acquisition of leading eCommerce site PriceMinister.com, not to mention their new Europe R&D office.
In terms of distribution, Netflix likely expected that leading ISP Orange wouldn’t distribute Netflix, given the TelCo’s historical ties to the French government and their competing service OCS (Orange Cinéma Séries); however, the announcement that Free, the 4th largest ISP, would also pass on making Netflix available to its users may hurt Netflix’s launch, where it hopes to touch 30% of households in the next 5 years.
Free’s decision not to distribute Netflix is pretty clear, given their current fight with Google over subsidized bandwidth use. Free doesn’t want users sucking down seasons of House of Cards & Orange is the New Black on its dime – their low-cost model depends on users using a controllable, low amount of bandwidth, and they won’t encourage them with high-bandwidth video streaming services.
Netflix is set to launch on September 9th – here’s hoping they pull out all the stops.
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