SFR goes content, convergence crazy with media buys

SFR, Altice, NextRadioTV

SFR said it wants to write the future of the telecom, media and advertising industries with two acquisitions that look set to shake up the French market.

The operator has acquired a 49 percent stake in French broadcaster NextRadioTV and entered into exclusive negotiations to acquire Altice Media Group France.

NextRadioTV owns France's fourth largest TV group BFMTV and its fourth largest radio station RMC, as well as spin-offs RMC Sport, RMC Découverte, BMF Business and websites 01net.com and BFMTV.com.

SFR has acquired the minority shareholding from parent company Altice, which formed a strategic partnership with NextRadioTV founder, CEO and Chairman Alain Weill, in December.

The deal values NextRadioTV at €741 million.

The operator intends to spend a further €241 million on Altice Media Group France, which publishes a range of newspapers and magazines, including Libération, L'Express and L'Expansion, owns TV channel i24 News and organises events such as the Salon de l'Etudiant trade fair.

In a statement, SFR said: “Both transactions represent a unique opportunity to develop SFR into a true cross-media content publisher, capitalising on a highly diversified portfolio of premium brands.

“The acquisitions support SFR's business strategy by accelerating the deployment of the global convergence of telecoms + media/content + advertising.”

Following the announcement, SFR unveiled five new services it is offering customers.

SFR Presse enables customers to access a range of magazines and newspapers, while SFR News brings together the BFM TV, BFM Business and i24 News channels as well as two new ones: BFMTV Sport and BFMTV Paris will launch in October.

SFR Sport will bundle together five dedicated sports channels, while SFR Play will focus on entertainment and leverage the Zive video on demand service that launched in November.

Finally, SFR Family provides up to 40 GB of mobile internet to be shared across multiple devices.

SFR said all its customers, which includes those from Numericable, the fixed line operator it merged with in 2014, would get to trial all the new free of charge for a month.

SFR Play will launch to coincide with the Cannes Film Festival next month, SFR News will coincide with the Euro 2016 football championship in June, while SFR Sport will be free to watch in August when the company intends to show off the English Premier League football rights it acquired last year.

In a statement, SFR said: “SFR now holds all the cards to succeed in the fullest of convergences: a super-powerful infrastructure comprising France’s leading fibre network and the country’s fastest growing 4G network in the past two quarters, diversified, exclusive content and a unique distribution network.

“This exceptional commercial striking force will transform the world of media by enabling everyone to have a true newsstand at home and by creating a sustainable business model for the press.”

Revenues at Numericable-SFR declined 3.5 percent in 2015, but Altice said the situation would improve this year “based on recent operational performance trends”.

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