French pay-satellite operator Canalsat is to offer non-subscribers access to a subset of its satellite channels over the Internet. Called Canalsat Web TV, the service is separate from the Canal+ VOD service Canalplay, which is available both in ‘over-the-top’ mode and integrated into French ISPs’ IPTV offerings.
Canalsat Web TV offers 63 of around 300 channels available from Canalsat using a dish and decoder. When launched a year ago, it was only available for free as an add-on for Canalsat customers subscribing to its top tier. Now non-subscribers can pay €25/m to access the service, with existing subscribers to the lowest Canalsat tiers paying €7/m extra.
The Web service – which is also available on the iPhone – offers less choice than its satellite equivalent: a mid-range Canalsat tier offering 230 channels via satellite is currently available for €23.90m. However, Canalsat Web TV comes with no strings attached: subscribers can enrol or churn out every month.
The Canalsat move closely resembles a similar initiative by BSkyB in the UK, which opened up its online Sky Player platform to non-subscribers in October. Entry-level is €18/m for just 20 channels.
Both can be seen as experiments which seek to establish the price consumers are willing to pay for the utility of ‘untethered’ viewing of premium channels anywhere in the home, in an environment devoid of contract tie-ins. Such offers also fulfil a secondary purpose for the operators: for existing subscribers, additional, more flexible viewing options help to keep them from churning and migrating to free OTT video; while it’s also an opportunity to showcase premium content to non-subscribers without requiring any commitment.