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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Groupe Canal+ SA
Company typeSubsidiary
Founded1984; 40 years ago (1984)
Area served
Key people
Jean-Christophe Thiery
Maxime Saada
ProductsPay TV
Television production
Film production & distribution
Revenue€5.16 billion (2018)
Number of employees
7,739 (2017) Edit this on Wikidata
Footnotes / references

Groupe Canal+, also known as Canal+ Group in English, is a French media and telecommunications conglomerate based in Paris, owned and controlled by Vivendi. It runs its own subscription TV channels in France, distributes third-party channels and services, and is a major source of finance for domestic film production, participating in the financing of the vast majority of films produced in France. It also has its own subsidiary companies with direct involvement in film production and distribution, such as StudioCanal. Apart from extensive operations in mainland France, the company owns many subsidiaries and operates in countries across Europe, Africa, the Asia-Pacific region, and in French Overseas Territories.

The company grew from the establishment of the subscription channel Canal+ in November 1984, co-founded by André Rousselet and Pierre Lescure. An early pioneer was Alain de Greef [fr], who joined in 1986. In 2023, it purported to be one of the 50 most powerful French brands in the world.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • SND Films / Medset Film / Canal+ / M6 Films (Irréductible)
  • SND Groupe M6 / Canal+ (Maigret)
  • Canal Plus Cinema X Intro
  • Maslow Entertainment/Umbrella Entertainment/RTL Aime/SND Groupe M6/Medset Film/Canal+/M6 (2022)
  • Aurum Film/Canal+ Original/StudioCanal (2020)



Subscription channel and production company (1984)

First logo, 1984–1995

The subscription channel Canal+ was launched in November 1984, when there were only three government-owned channels available in France.[2] The company was co-founded by André Rousselet, president of the French multinational advertising company Havas,[2] and Pierre Lescure, who proved very popular with media professionals and politicians.[3] There were 186,000 subscribers, who committed to paying 140 francs (21.34 euros) per month for the service.[4]

Alain de Greef [fr] (c. 1947 – 29 June 2015) joined in 1986[5] joining his longtime friend Pierre Lescure. De Greef was first appointed director of production, then head of programmes, and finally as director general (1986–2000).[6][5] De Greef was later described as a pioneer and visionary, who set the tone and created the "Canal Plus spirit", which embodied anti-conformism along with edgy satire that became very popular. He created the satirical puppet show Les Guignols de l'Info and cult talk shows Nulle part ailleurs, Groland, and Les Deschiens.[5][6]

The new channel got off to a slow start, and some politicians, including prime minister Laurent Fabius, railed against the idea of having a commercial TV channel. However, Rousselet was a personal friend of the president, François Mitterrand, and so obtained favourable terms for the setup. Pierre Lescure was director-general at that time. A combination of political connections and clever programming – giving the French public American hit comedies and French drama not available on the government channels – worked and subscriptions soon increased. Government regulations required that the channel give several hours of free programming each day, which was used by Canal+ to promote the subscription service.[2]

The channel initially had to use 45% of its air-time on films, until the film industry pushed back. Sport, interview shows, documentaries, and soft pornography joined films as the main staples of programming at this time. In 1985, the government opened up the market to other private commercial television stations, offering some serious competition. However, aggressive marketing and policies ensured that the company kept growing. By 1989, Canal+ had almost three million subscribers. Around this time the company expanded into some European markets, notably Belgium, Spain, and Germany, where in partnership with Bertelsmann and the Kirch Group, the first national pay TV service, Premiere TV, was established. With its expansion into Africa in 1990 with Canal+ Horizons, Canal+ was not only the most successful subscription channel in Europe, but also second only to HBO globally.[2]

In the mid-1980s, Canal+ started acquiring rights to American TV shows and blockbusters, but buying rights from Hollywood was expensive, so the company moved into producing its own films.[2] On 1 January 1987, Canal+ Productions was founded as a cinema film co-production subsidiary of the cable channel,[4] which later partnered with Universal Pictures to co-produce films.[2]

On 1 March 1987, another subsidiary, Ellipse Programs, was established, with the aim of producing television works intended for all broadcasters, which would promote Canal+ producers' talent.[4] On 18 April 1990, Canal+ Horizons was created to export Canal+ content to countries on the African continent.[4] Also in 1987, Canal+ went public.[2]

By December 1990, Canal+ Productions rebranded to Le Studio Canal+, and released its first film, The Double Life of Veronique, by Krzysztof Kieslowski.[4] By the early 1990s, it became apparent that Canal+ was a major contributor to the French film industry, with its obligation to spend 10% of its income on French-made films, as well as being Europe's largest buyer of American film rights.[2] Canal+ also made investments in other companies. In 1991 it bought a five percent stake in the independent American studio Carolco Pictures.[2] However, in 1992, Studio Canal+ suffered financial difficulties after Carolco entered a corporate restructure.[citation needed]

Satellite broadcasting (1992)

On 6 December 1991, CanalSatellite was created.[4] Canal+ started began satellite broadcasting in 1992, to reach parts of France not covered by cable.[2] Digital satellite provider CanalSatellite was launched as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Canal+ on 6 December 1991. On 27 April 1996, Canal+ received two new sister channels: Canal+ Jaune and Canal+ Bleu.[4] In 1999 Canal+ partnered with Vivendi to create V-Net. During the 1990s it also expanded further into Europe and the UK, with BSkyB and TVS. Later it bought up NetHold in the Netherlands, and took majority control of France's NC Numericable (formerly CGV).[2]

In 1994 Rousselet quit the board, and was replaced by director-general Lescure.[2]

In January 1996, Le Studio Canal+ acquired the bankrupted Carolco Pictures' library for $56 million, making its first foray into library acquisitions.[7][8] It also bought up a film library from UGC DA.[2]

On 27 April 1996, CanalSatellite launched as a digital satellite platform, with 24 channels and interactive services. CANAL+ became available on two additional channels, Canal+ Jaune (Yellow) and Canal+ Bleu (Blue), later named Canal+ Cinema and Canal+ Confort.[4]

On 1 December 1998, all film, television, music, video production activities, etc. were grouped into a new entity, Canal+ Image, which was rebranded as StudioCanal in 2000.[4] On 1 December 1999, a new subsidiary, Canal+ Technologies, was created, to develop and market its access control and interactivity technology.[4]

21st century

In January 2000, it was announced that French arms and media conglomerate Lagardère Group had purchased a major stake in the digital television division, taking 34 percent of CanalSatellite and nearly 27.5 percent of MultiThematiques, for a price of more than US$890 million. Lagardère acquired the 30.2% MultiThematiques stake then held by Vivendi.[9][10] In February 2000, Canal+ announced the merger of its Ellipse Programme TV production company into the programming provider Expand. The company continued to grow as it moved into Internet and multi-access content markets.[2] On 15 June 2001 it took over control of Expand, leading producer of French audiovisual content.[4]

In early December 2000, Vivendi acquired Canal+,[11] On 11 December 2000 Vivendi Universal was created from the merger of Canal+, Seagram, and Vivendi. Groupe Canal+, made up of Canal+ Distribution, Canal+ Régie, and the Canal+ channel, was then wholly owned by Vivendi Universal. Legislation required that the channel was held at 49%.[4]

From 2000 to 2002, Virginie Calmels successively held three positions: chief financial officer, deputy CEO, and then joint chief operating officer of the group.[12][13] In 2001, co-founder Alain De Greef was fired from his position as director-general and replaced by Michel Denisot, when the organisation was restructured under the leadership of Jean-Marie Messier, chief executive of Vivendi.[6] Criticism of Vivendi's poor share performance since the takeover grew, and in April 2002, De Greef's co-founder and CEO Pierre Lescure, clashed with Messier and was fired.[3]

On 23 May 2005, CanalSatellite was renamed Canalsat.[4]

An alternative Canal+ logo was used between 2006 and 2009.

Alternative logo, 2006–2009

On 7 December 2010 all Canal+ channels, plus the 90 CanalSat channels, became available live on Microsoft's XBOX 360.[4]

In December 2013, Canal+ announced that they creating CanalStart, a new structure to support young entrepreneurs' media and new technology initiatives and projects[14] in the form of a financial investment or contracts awarded by Canal+.[15] CanalStart presented at SXSW 2014.[16] In April 2015, CanalStart announced a first commercial partnership with Wildmoka, a start-up specialising in the design of enriched television services,[17] after it won MIPLab 2015, a global B2B startup competition in TV and online video.[18] The company was removed from the companies register on 29 November 2016.[19]

In September 2015, Vincent Bolloré, chairman of parent company Vivendi, was appointed as chairman of Canal Plus. He changed several former executives and aligned Canal+'s operations with Vivendi's.[20]

Canal+ signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Disney+ in December 2019, ahead of Disney's launch in France on 31 March 2020. The company would continue to have exclusive rights to Disney content (including the Star Wars and Avengers films, and would also be the only distributor of Disney channels in France. It would also retain its distribution of National Geographic, Voyage, and Fox Play channels.[21]

Former channels

Canal+3D logo

Canal+ 3D was established in June 2010, to broadcast some matches of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in 3D. It then only ran a single movie and one live event each month, obtaining 3D content produced in the UK and Spain. After the channel only attracted around 30,000 subscribers, it stopped broadcasting on 24 January 2012. After this date, it was still possible to receive transmissions were receivable on Canal's PVRs, as well as IPTV Networks Free and SFR. However, there were still plans to broadcast 200 hours in 3D for the London 2012 Olympics.[22][23]

Canal+ Hi-Tech, called Canal+ 16/9 until March 2005, was dedicated to the broadcasting of films in an aspect ratio of 16:9 and high-definition television. The channel was deleted when switching Canal+ to the 16:9 format.[citation needed][a]


Groupe Canal+, referred to as Canal+ Group in English on its website,[24] is headquartered in Issy-les-Moulineaux, in the suburbs of Paris.[25]

The group distributes third-party channels and services, as well as being a major source of finance for domestic film production, participating in the financing of the vast majority of films produced in France. It also has its own subsidiary companies with direct involvement in film production and distribution, StudioCanal.[24][26] The Wall Street Journal described Canal+ as "the French film industry's biggest financial backer, beloved by French cineastes".[27]

The company purports to have one of the 50 most powerful French brands in the world in 2023, with 26.4 million subscribers in 50 countries around the world. Its production company StudioCanal has 14 production companies in Europe and the US, and holds more than 9,000 titles.[24]

Governance and people

Groupe Canal+ is governed by a dual board system, with a Supervisory Board (Conseil de Surveillance)[28] and an Executive Committee (Comité éxecutif).

As of May 2024 the president of the Supervisory Board is Jean-Christophe Thiery.[29][30]

Executive positions include:[29]

  • Maxime Saada, CEO of the group, president of StudioCanal, president/director general of Dailymotion, vice-president of the Lagardère group, president of L'Olympia, and director of Vivendi
  • Anna Marsh, deputy director of the group, director-general of StudioCanal
  • Gregoire Castaing, deputy director of the group, head of finance and strategy
  • Jacques du Puy, president of Canal+ International

Corporate divisions in France


The flagship brand of the organisation is Canal+, a French premium television channel launched in 1984. It is encrypted for most of the day, and viewers who wish to watch the channel's more popular programming (new-release movies and live sport) must subscribe to the service. Previously this involved the purchase of a decoder to decrypt the signal, but today Canal+ is offered as part of a multi-channel satellite or cable television package.[citation needed]

Canal+ (provider)

Formerly Canal Satellite Numérique, a pay satellite and IPTV distributor (as CanalSAT DSL). Canal+ is a satellite TV package launched in 1992 as an extension to the original Canal+ analogue channel.[31]


StudioCanal is a production company formed in 1988, associated with NBCUniversal until 2011.[32] Nowadays, StudioCanal is operating in several countries such as Germany, Japan, or Australia.[33] For the movie industry, it is a major player at the European level.[34]

StudioCanal announced in 2011 that it would spend €200 million a year on movie production, establishing its position as "the first port of call outside the U.S. for intelligent upmarket movies" such as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which is fully financed by the studio.[35]


Thema is a Canal+ Group company that oversees distribution of Pay TV services, FAST channels, YouTube Channels, and other content to cable, IPTV, and DTH operators and streaming services. As of 2024 it covers over 180 TV channels worldwide and has partnerships with major pay TV platforms in France, Europe, Africa, Middle East, Asia, Canada, Latin America, and the US.[36][37]

Thema was founded in 2005 by François Thiellet, and acquired by Canal+ in 2014. At this time, it was the parent company of Nollywood TV.[38] From January 2024 it has handled the distribution of Brazilian media giant Globo's offering across Asia, including Japan, South Korea, India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore.[39] There is a subdivision called Thema America that covers Latin America, which in January 2024 partnered with SPI International to offer more channels.[40]

International operations

Past operations

Movie Network, an Australian premium television service launched in 1995, was founded as a partnership between Canal+, HBO (a subsidiary of Time Warner), The Walt Disney Company, MGM/UA and Village Roadshow. A few years later, Canal+ dropped out of the partnership.[when?][citation needed]

Canal Plus was the first cable TV channel to operate in Brazil, in 1989. It operated on the MMDS system and broadcast part of ESPN programming. Its Brazilian operations were sold to Grupo Abril in 1991.[41][42]

Canal+ International

Canal+ International [fr] is a subsidiary of the group. By 31 December 2023, it had 6.6 million subscribers in over 50 countries across Africa, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and French Overseas Territories in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean regions. As of 2024 Canal+ International also produces over 100 channels for international distribution.[43]

On 15 November 2017, Quebec cable system Videotron began carrying Canal+ International, marking it the first provider to carry the channel.[44] It is also the second attempt at making Canal+ available in Canada since the former paid Canal+ Canada channel on Dailymotion, launched in 2013.[45]

As of August 2018, Canal+ International is on U.S. satellite provider DirecTV in HD on channel 2010.[citation needed]


Canal+ Afrique was launched as Canal+ Horizons[4] or Canal Horizons in 1991, initially broadcasting mostly in Tunisia and Senegal.[46] By the end of 2023, it had 8.1 million subscribers.[43] In July 2014, the launch of a new pan-African TV channel - A+ - was announced. Based in Abidjan (Ivory Coast), it aimed to become the leading television company in French-speaking Africa.[47]

The Canal+ Group has other activities in Africa as well as the Canal+ Afrique service; by 2018, the whole group's offerings including over 200 channels, radio stations, and other services, while the Canal+ Afrique's platform offered more than 50 channels.[48] On 30 June 2023, the Canal+ Group bought 144.2 million shares (32.6% of the capital) in the South African subscription provider MultiChoice, which, with 20 million subscribers, is the market leader in English and Portuguese-speaking Africa. Their main competitor on the continent is the Chinese-owned StarTimes; however, estimated audience shares by 2028 are 32 million for Canal+/MultiChoice and 19 million for StarTimes.[49][50]

Canal+ Ethiopia was launched in 2021.[51]


As mentioned above, Canal+ expanded into several European companies in the 1990s,[2] but as of 2016 it was only active in Poland and France, due to many of these divisions being sold to other companies such as Sky Europe and Movistar.[citation needed] Canal+ began returning to European markets outside of France and Poland in 2022 as a streaming service, in countries such as Austria, Czechia, and Slovakia.[citation needed]

Canal Plus came to the Nordic countries in 1997, acquiring the two FilmNet-channels and renaming them. The Nordic part was sold in October 2003 to the Telenor-owned Canal Digital, and the Canal+ brand was used under license until 2012, when the channels were re-branded C More Entertainment.[citation needed]

Canal+ Poland is CANAL+ Group's second largest base in terms of number of subscribers, with 3 million.[43]

Canal Group bought M7 Group in 2019, which has expanded its presence in Europe, which now includes distribution brands in Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. M7 is also intending to produce content for broadcast in Europe. The CANAL+ brand now exists in Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and the Netherlands.[43] In addition, as of 2024 the group owns SPI International, which operates TV channels and digital platforms in many countries, and 29.33% of Swedish streaming service Viaplay.[43]

Canal+ Czechia and Slovakia was launched on 28 February 2023 as a streaming service.[52]

FilmNet in the Netherlands was rebranded as Canal+ in 1997.[53] In 2005, the channels were bought by Liberty Global and renamed Sport1 and Film1 in February 2006.[54] Sport1 changed its name to Ziggo Sport Totaal in November 2015,[55] Film1 was sold to Sony Pictures Television in the same year.[56] In April 2019 was announced by Sony that Film1 would close on 1 August 2019;[57][58] however, it was sold to SPI International instead,[59] which was fully acquired by Canal+ in August 2023. Canal+ was reintroduced in Netherlands as a streaming service on 20 January 2024.[60]

Canal+ Luxembourg (former M7 Group) is a Luxembourg-based television provider which operates several direct broadcast satellite pay TV platforms: HD Austria in Austria, Télésat in Belgium and Luxembourg, TV Vlaanderen in the Flanders region in Belgium, Skylink in Czech Republic and Slovakia, Canal Digitaal in the Netherlands, Focus Sat in Romania, and Direct One in Hungary. It also operates a terrestrial pay television platform in Flanders, Belgium and offers B2B multimedia services. Canal+ acquired M7 Group for 1.1 billion euros on 12 September 2019.[61][62]

Past involvement in European services include:


In May 2009, K+ founded by Canal+ and VTV was launched. K+ brings national level satellite TV service and OTT service to Vietnamese households, offering five premium and exclusive channels,[63] up to 170 SD channels and HD channels across genres: sports, movies, general entertainment, news, music, and documentaries.[64][43]

Canal+ Myanmar, originally launched by Forever Group as 4TV in 2006, became a joint venture with Canal+ Group in 2017.[citation needed] Canal+ has been operating in Myanmar in collaboration with Forever since 2018.[43]

In June 2023, CANAL+ partnered with PCCW to expand the streaming service Viu, which serves Asia and the Middle East, and in February 2024 CANAL+ increased its stake in Viu to 30%.[43] Also in 2023, CANAL+ also partnered with the Onati group to broadcast its content in Polynesia.[43]

French Overseas Territories

Canal+ Group has 800,000 subscribers in the French Overseas Territories, with CANAL+ International's subsidiaries operating in the Caribbean (Antilles, French Guiana, and Haiti); the Indian Ocean (Réunion, Mayotte, and Mauritius) and the Pacific (New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, and French Polynesia).[43]

Channels in France

  • Canal+ Cinéma(s) – premium TV channel devoted to movies
  • Canal+ Sport – premium TV channel devoted to sports programmes
  • Canal+ Kids – premium TV channel devoted to family programming
  • Canal+ Docs
  • Canal+ Grand Écran
  • Canal+ Foot
  • Canal+ Séries – premium TV channel devoted to series
  • Canal+ Sport 360 – premium TV channel, delayed broadcast of Sport from Canal+
  • Canal+ Box Office
  • Ciné+ – set of six thematic cable television channels
  • Comédie+ (formerly Comédie!) – cable TV channel devoted to humorous programs
  • CStar Hits France – cable TV channel devoted to musical programs
  • Foot+ – cable TV channel devoted to football
  • Rugby+ – cable TV channel devoted to rugby football
  • Golf+ – cable TV channel devoted to golf
  • Infosport+ – cable TV news channel devoted to sports
  • Piwi+ (formerly Piwi) – cable TV channel devoted to children programs
  • Planète+ – cable TV channel devoted to documentaries
  • Planète+ Adventure – cable TV channel devoted to documentaries from A&E Networks channels
  • Planète+ Crime– cable TV channel devoted to crime documentaries
  • Polar+ – subscription streaming service, featuring many foreign TV series[65][66][67]
  • Seasons – cable TV channel devoted to documentaries
  • Télétoon+ (formerly Télétoon) – cable TV channel devoted to animation
  • Teletoon+ (formerly Minimax/ZigZap) – cable TV channel devoted to animation broadcast in Poland
  • MiniMini+ (formerly MiniMini) – cable TV channel devoted to animated series for children from 3 to 8 years in Poland
  • CNews (formerly i>Télé) – free-to-air news channel
  • C8 – free-to-air channel
  • CStar – free-to-air channel devoted to musical programs
  • MyCanal – free streaming service for Canal+ subscribers to stream the channel's programming live and on-demand
  • Canal+ International – international French premium channel featuring programming from Canal+ and its various other channels

Past divisions

Former channels

See also

  • High Above, a book about the development of the satellite company SES


  1. ^ A quick google shows mention of this channel in various forums, such as Generation Cable and Regard TV (both 2008), but not much else.


  1. ^ "Rapport annuel document de référence 2018" (PDF) (in French). Retrieved 25 November 2019.
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  3. ^ a b Milmo, Dan (16 April 2002). "Lescure ousted at Canal Plus". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 May 2024.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "L'histoire du Groupe CANAL+ de 1983 à nos jours". Canal+. 2010. Archived from the original on 5 February 2012.
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  10. ^ "LAGARDERE and CANAL+ Announce Alliance in Digital TV". Lagardère - - Groupe. 12 January 2000. Retrieved 16 May 2024.
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  12. ^ "Virginie Calmels: Executive Profile & Biography". Archived from the original on 18 October 2017. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  13. ^ "Virginie Calmels joins the Assystem Board of Directors" (PDF). 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 September 2017. She then joined the Canal+ group where she successively held the positions of Chief Financial Officer, Deputy CEO and joint Chief Operating Officer between 2000 and 2002.
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