France may soon be the frontline of the battle for the future of television.
The latest salvo was fired today when Paris-based Molotov announced that its Internet TV service would finally launch to the public on July 11 after months of beta testing. The startup says the initial version of the service will include all 26 free broadcast channels available in France, and up to 100 total including paid TV channels from partners such as the Canal Plus Group.
“There are not many services that give you access to all these other channels,” said Molotov co-founder Jean-David Blanc in an interview with Rude Baguette. “This is going to be a completely different experience. Molotov is a one-stop shop for every channel, free or paid, with a universal experience.”
Blanc said Molotov’s business will use a freemium model. Anyone will be able to use the application to watch TV across their various screens for free and without a cable box. Subscribers will be able to access the paid tier of channels for one monthly rate. Pricing for the premium service will be announced closer to the launch, Blanc said.
The announcement of the launch date this summer comes amid a growing trend of people cutting the cord to traditional cable services in favor of so-called “over the top” (OTT) services. Netflix has become one of the leaders in this revolution, offering a lineup of TV shows, movies and original programming through one subscription plan. HBO has also tried to walk this route with its direct HBO GO service for U.S. viewers that does not require a cable subscription plan.
The revamped Apple TV device that debuted last fall also offers a growing list of channels for French viewers. However, Apple has been frustrated in its attempts to put together a subscription package of channels to provide a full-on cable TV alternative. For now, users of Apple TV can pick and choose between different apps for different channels, but that can be unwieldy at times to manage.
That’s where Molotov, which boasts a heavyweight lineup of founders, hopes to beat them all to the punch. Blanc was previously founder of Allociné. His Molotov co-founders include Jean-Marc Denoual, former head of Strategy & Innovation at TF1 (France’s leading television channel); Pierre Lescure, founder & former CEO of Canal+ (France’s equivalent of HBO that built its own Netflix-like offer in France), & Kevin Kuipers, a veteran of Allociné.
Molotov says it will provide a single, integrated viewing experiencing allowing users to search and watch content across all the channels rather than managing a series of different applications for each service. It also hopes to provide a more elegant viewing and discovery experience than the clunky user interface’s available on most cable boxes.
The group of broadcasting insiders who founded Molotov made a big splash last year when they announced a beta trial of the service along with news that the company had registered as an official cable TV distributor with France’s broadcasting regulatory body. They have also raised €10 million in venture capital from a range of investors, including IDInvest, and business angels.
In addition, Molotov has announced partnerships with Samsung and LG to place its service on any of the companies’ TVs purchased in France.
Thanks to a new deal announced today, Molotov’s channel lineup with include a mix of free and paid channels from Canal Plus, including Ciné+Premier, Ciné+Frisson, Ciné+émotion, Ciné+Famiz, Ciné+Club, Ciné+Classic and Ciné+A on demand.
While Molotov will initially launch in France only, Blanc made it clear that the company still has its sights on expanding to other international markets. For now, the company must continue to craft deals and packages that focus on each local market, Blanc said.
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