HBO, Orange set to co-produce content in France

Orange

The CEOs of HBO and Orange have said they are hopeful of producing content together as they unveiled a new partnership in France.

Richard Plepler and Stéphane Richard shared a stage in Paris on Tuesday to announce that OCS – four channels dedicated to film and TV series that the France-based operator owns – would become the sole broadcaster of HBO content in France.

The deal, which replaces one that was due to end in 2018, gives OCS subscribers access to the full HBO catalogue alongside the “widespread use” of simultaneous broadcasts with the production house behind Game of Thrones.

OCS has worked with HBO since launching in 2008 and has developed several initiatives to showcase the US-based company’s content, including a channel that premieres new HBO series in France.

Richard said HBO was “integral” to its offering.

OCS is distributed through Orange as well as rivals Bouygues Telecom, Iliad and SFR, pay-TV channel Canalsat and PlayStation among others.

Across all its distribution channels, it has 2.6 million subscribers.

Plepler said OCS “shares our sensibilities, our ethos”.

Asked whether the two companies would look to work together on producing content, the HBO chief replied: “Why not?”

He added that he had “hope and expectation” that this would happen in the future.

Richard was more circumspect but did not rule it out, saying it was something they would look into.

The new deal is “significant”, Richard added, as Orange looks to move on from being a simple aggregator of content.

Alongside OCS the France-based operator owns Orange Studio, which has co-produced and acquired films since 2007.

This year, it will have a major presence at the Cannes Film Festival thanks to the launch of a new film by director Luc Besson, in which it has been “a major partner”.

Richard hinted that Orange was looking at how to maximise the impact of its various content businesses moving forward.

The operator is placing a renewed focus on content as rivals, notably Altice, up their game.

The SFR-owner announced plans to launch a production studio and a “channel factory” last year.

Earlier this month, it said it was producing a drama series about the super-rich in partnership with Sky.

CCS Insight analyst Paolo Pescatore said: “The [HBO] tie-up underlines Orange's growing aspirations to produce content.

“And more importantly use exclusivity with key partners to boost subscriber uptake.

“Make no mistake that Orange is paying top dollar for this exclusive access.”

Orange would not disclose how much it had paid HBO, but Richard said the operator had spent around €500 million on content last year.

The operator saw sales in France decline one percent in 2016.

Last week, it again denied rumours that it was in talks to buy Bouygues Telecom.

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