Orange to pre-empt Netflix with Orangecast launch

Orange is preparing to take on the imminent threat of Netflix’s arrival in France by launching a new OTT subscription video-on-demand service that will be made available via a WiFi-connectable HDMI dongle that can be plugged into TVs.

The initiative has been pushed by French economic development minister Arnaud Montebourg, who confirmed the plan this week to L’Express magazine.

According to L’Express, the service, dubbed Orangecast, will comprise a wide range of offerings including Orange Cinéma Séries (OCS) video-on-demand, French and international free-to-air channels, music from Orange’s streaming service Deezer and games. It will also be charged with focusing on French content.

Customer services will be handled by Orange’s low-cost subsidiary Sosh, which recently launched a low-cost fibre-to-the-home quad-play offering to compete with a similar offering launched by Bouygues Telecom.

The launch of Orangecast will enable the telco to provide a TV offering to subscribers of rival fixed-line service providers such as Numericable and SFR. However, Orange will likely wish to structure its offering so as not to cannibalise its own Livebox TV base.

Orange already offers its VoD service on Google’s Chromecast dongle, which was launched in France in March, and has a partnership with SFR to distribute its offering.

News of Orange’s plans to launch its own Chromecast rival first emerged in May, when Orange CEO Stéphane Richard told L’Opinion that the company planned to commercialise a dongle with an offering that would different from that Google.

According to L’Express, Orange is also interested in launching the service outside of France, not only in markets where it already has a fixed-line or mobile presence but, via its Orange Horizons unit, in markets where Orange does not currently have a presence.

However, the telco would have to secure content rights to its catalogue in different markets to launch internationally. In addition to home-produced content, OCS carries a large number of US series from HBO and films from Hollywood studios.

News of Orange’s plans comes after a flurry or activity in France ahead of Netflix’s launch. However plans for French broadcasters including TF1, M6 and possibly Canal+ to team up and provide a joint SVOD service have so far come to nothing.

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