Salto, the French commercial and public broadcasters’ answer to Netflix, has begun closed user-group tests ahead of a delayed commercial launch in the autumn.
Salto CEO Thomas Follin told the AFP news agency that the streaming service was on the “starting blocks” for an autumn launch.
Salto, which has been subject to lengthy delays while it was subject to European and subsequently French domestic regulatory scrutiny, was scheduled to launch in the first quarter, and then more fully in June, but the date has been pushed back because of the coronavirus lockdown.
Follin said that the initial test phase would not be open to consumers because of the lockdown of production activity, which meant that the service would have been unable to deliver the kind of offering that the public would expect.
He told the agency that Salto still anticipated having 15,000 hours of content available by the time of the commercial launch, and that the streamer would set about acquiring rights during the test phase in the run-up to the launch. Salto has promised a catalogue of 20,000 hours once it is up and running fully. The service will provide live channels as well as on-demand and catch-up content.
The testing will involve periods of purely technical tests, tests of the user journey among a closed group and tests with a representative panel of consumers, with several hundred to be recruited for this purpose.
Salto’s backers – France Télévisions, TF1 and M6 – plan to invest about €250 million in content for the service – which is expected to be priced between €5 ($5.50) and €10 a month – over the next three years.
Salto will be available on the web at launch, and discussions are in train for carriage on the TV boxes of Orange and Bouygues Telecom. A deal with Free seems less likely given the strong opposition of that service provider’s boss Xavier Niel to the project.