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France's Molotov aims to replace the cable box


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France's Molotov aims to replace the cable box

SNL ImageSource: Molotov

Cord-cuttersand cord-never millennials are ditching their traditional TV sets for OTTplatforms at a record rate. Cable providers have largely responded to the drop-offin viewing by adopting TV everywhere strategies and bundling cable or satellitepackages into single platforms that can be accessed anywhere, live or on demand.

Ahost of platforms like NetflixInc., Amazon.comInc. or HuluLLC try to cash in on the internet TV gold rush.

However,only few OTT providers aim to replace the traditional cable box entirely,according to Jean-David Blanc, co-founder and CEO of the new OTT startup Molotov.

in France earlier thismonth, Molotov is a TV content aggregator that viewers can access from multipledevices. The platform introduces a "radically new experience" to TVviewing, one that enables viewers to pick and choose from several services andchannels via an OTT service, according to Blanc.

"OTTusage is exploding and this is a huge growth driver," he said in aninterview.

Blancestablished Molotov with fellow media veterans Pierre Lescure, co-founder ofCanal+, former TF1 executive Jean-Marc Denoual, as well as Gamekult and SensCritique co-founder Kevin Kuipers.

The platform has a free service that includes 33 channels, 25 ofwhich are from the French DTT network, and 10 hours of bookmarks. It alsooffers two premium packages: Option + 100h, which offers 100 extra hours ofbookmarks for €3.99 per month; and Option Extended, which includes more than 70HD channels, four simultaneous streams and 100 hours of bookmarks for €9.99 amonth.

MichailChandakas, analyst at S&P Global Market Intelligence, said the market wouldwelcome Molotov's aggressive pricing strategy due to high subscription costsfor pay TV service in France. The service would also help broadcasters and payTV channel owners to reach a wider audience, making it supplementary- ratherthan competitive- service, Chandakas added.

Additionally,Molotov's position as a pure-play content aggregator rather than a contentcreator means it is unlikely to be in direct competition with Netflix orCanalplay in France.

Molotov users have live, catch-up or start-over options to watchcontent. The platform will roll out more features such as social mediafunctionality, notifications and alerts, and content navigation in the comingmonths. Theplatform has clinched deals with Apple Inc., SamsungGroup and LG.

Nonetheless,it is still early days for France's new "one-stop-shop" for TVcontent.

Blanc,who is also the co-founder of French cinema portal AlloCiné, admits Molotov hasits work cut out to penetrate the French market and beyond.

Thestartup plans to launch its platform in several other countries across Europefrom the first quarter of 2017. It is currently in negotiations with localchannels in a number of European countries and will aim to secure deals incountries where its channel partners aggregate at least 60%-75% of the localaudience.

Chandakassaid a market like Germany, wherepay TV penetration is low compared to other developed western European markets,would be an ideal market for Molotov to enter.

"Germanswant local content but are less willing to pay for it so that's where a servicelike Molotov would have the advantage over other SVOD services likeNetflix," Chandakas explained.

Tosupport its long-term international expansion, Blanc stressed that Molotovplans to raise another €100 million of venture capital funding in at least fourtranches within the next 12-18 months, having raised a €10 million fundinground led by Paris-based fund Idinvest Partners in 2014.

Molotovis also in the process of opening an office in the U.S. as Blanc revealed thecompany is "exploring opportunities" and could come head-to-head withthe likes of DISH Network Corp.'sSling TV and Hulu.