France’s Canal+ eyes 500 job cuts amid intense competition

French pay TV operator Canal+ is to reduce its workforce by around 500 posts as it struggles to regain ground following the entry of streamers such as Netflix.

According to various press reports, the Vivendi-owned pay TV operator sent an email to employee representatives last week calling on them to attend a meeting on July 9 for consultation on a restructuring project that would hinge on a plan of voluntary departures.

The plan could see the pay TV operator reduce its headcount in its home territory by 500 out of 2,800, according to local press, with a focus on editorial posts but with an impact across distribution, studios and administration.

The move comes as Canal+ continues to struggle to arrest a long-term decline in its subscriber count and revenues in France. Canal+ has lost around 228,000 subscribers over the last year, taking it total in its domestic market to 4.6 million.

The group as a whole saw its revenues slide from €1.30 billion (US$1.46 billon) to €1.252 billion year-on-year in the first quarter, driven down by the continued loss of subscribers to its domestic French pay TV operation.

Owner Vivendi said that Canal+ overall grew its subscriber base by 700,000 during the last 12 months, thanks to its success in attracting new customers internationally.

Canal+ also moved to boost its international presence in Europe with the acquisition of M7 Group, which operates pay TV services in Belgium, the Netherlands and a number of central European countries.

Streaming services such as Netflix are providing intense competition for the French operator, but it is also facing a further challenge next year with the loss of Ligue 1 football to Spanish entrant Mediapro.

Canal+ CEO Maxime Saada has been highly critical of the amount paid by the Spanish broadcaster for the rights to French top-tier football, which he maintains makes no sense. Canal+ appears to be banking on Mediapro seeking some sort of resale deal rather than trying to exploit the rights on its own at significant additional cost and risk.