Catch-up television in France is now an established practice but its business model is still a work in progress, according to a new study from TV watchdog Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel (CSA).
Revenue for the 25 free-to-air TV channels offering catch-up services assessed by the CSA rose 26 per cent in 2013 to €76.2 million compared to 2012, with 72 per cent coming from advertising.
For broadcasters, this ad-based model is still limited and challenged by other kinds of non-linear services such as VoD or platforms such as YouTube.
According to the CSA, such a business model can still last a few more years but with no increase in margin in the longer term unless IPTV services are able to increase advertising monetisation. This would entail ISPs looking to reduce their financial contribution to recover part of the distribution cost.
Noting the weakness of the current model, the CSA suggests alternative scenarios, such as a pay or part-pay model, based on a Hulu/Hulu Plus approach, might ensure sustainability of such services.
Such a transition may not be easy to achieve for technical or regulatory reasons, the CSA finds, suggesting that a proportion of consumers would still be willing to to pay for content previously received for free.
In suggesting such a scenario, the CSA notes that catch-up TV services are increasingly popular among TV viewers, attracting 72 per cent of online users in 2014 compared with 69 per cent in 2013, with 311 million video requests per month in 2014 against 207 million in 2013. Similarly, in 2014, over 15,300 hours of free-to-air content were available each month, a 9 per cent increase compared to 2013.
Driven by strong catch-up growth, online TV viewing rose 40 per cent during 2014, while linear TV online showed a 4.5 per cent decline over the same period. Computers now account for 40.4 per cent of catch-up viewing, with TV sets at 37.5 per cent in 2014, and 22.1 per cent for mobiles and tablets.