Orange eyes free TV, preps content unit


Stephane RichardOrange is considering launching a free TV channel in France that would sit alongside its existing OCS pay TV offering.

It has also created a new content unit and said it will plough more money into programming.

Orange has just renewed and extended its deal with HBO and at a press conference in Paris.

“All possibilities are open, even the one of going free to air,” said Orange content chief and OCS president Serge Laroye at the event.

Laroye said the expanded and exclusive HBO deal was a sign that Orange wants to invest more heavily in programming. There is the “will to significantly raise our investment into content,” he said, adding that the group spent €550 million (US$594 million) on programming in 2016.

The exec will head up the new content unit, Orange Content, which will sit alongside its existing film unit, Orange Studio.

Orange’s exclusive deal with HBO has been signed ahead of rival SFR launching its drama and movie channel SFR Studios in July.

The HBO agreement sees Canal+ losing its second window to all HBO new series broadcast after January 31 including Big Little Lies, season six of Girls and seasons six and seven of Game of Thrones. Orange pledged that it wouldn’t hike prices in the wake of securing the HBO fare.

Though losing the HBO content, Canal+ Group remains associated to OCS through a 33% shareholding. Orange chairman and CEO Stéphane Richard (pictured) confirmed both parties are working on a distribution partnership, without disclosing further details.