France is the testing ground for Netflix’s first channel offering.
The new linear channel will air French, American and global films and TV series that anchor the streamer. Called Direct, access comes via Netflix’s web browser, versus set-top boxes, reports Variety. At present, the channel has no plans to utilize set-top boxes or CTV apps.
The channel underscores Netflix’s push into real-time, traditionally scheduled programs. Direct resembles a broadcast network more than a streaming platform.
France was deliberately chosen, given its 9 million subscribers and comfort with traditional TV. Also, older viewers are a major component of French households.
Netflix stated: “Whether you are lacking inspiration or whether you are discovering Netflix for the first time, you could let yourself be guided for the first time without having to choose a particular title and let yourself be surprised by the diversity of Netflix’s library.”
Direct will compete with Salto, the French streamer launched Oct. 20 as a joint venture of France Télévisions, TF1 and M6. It offers three-tiers, priced at $9, $13 and $15. Salto will run 15,000 hours of programming from its partners, rather than original content.
Netflix is increasing production in French programming. French originals currently on the platform include “Family Business” and “Plan Coeur.”
Separately, Canada has pushed a bill that would compel American streamers to pay for the production of Canadian films and TV shows. The proposed change creates a new category — “online undertakings” — that targets streamers and broadcasters that transmit programs online.
Should Bill C-10, an amendment to the nation’s Broadcasting Act, pass, it will force foreign streamers, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, to invest more than $800 million to develop, produce and distribute local content by 2023.