Orange’s Exclusive Content Strategy in Question?

Fr_dp According to a short article in Les Echos (France Telecom Doit s'Interroger sur sa Gouvernance, Selon Richard), France Telecom's #2 Stéphane Richard has expressed doubts around Orange's Exclusive Content strategy. The exact quote is as follows:

<< Stéphane Richard – who is to take over from current CEO Didier Lombard in spring 2011 – added that the group needed to question its policies in terms of contents considering the issues it faced in its exclusivity strategies. >>

According to 2009 Q3 results, Orange has 596 000 subscribers to its exclusive content channels. End of 2009 numbers will be announced in February 25th. It's not a bad number considering these channels were launched a little under two years ago, but it still pales in comparison to Canal +'s 10.2 million subs (Canal + & Canal Sat).

More importantly perhaps, the core strategic intent behind Orange's costly acquisition of football, TV Series and Cinema exclusives was to drive broadband subscriptions, particularly over FTTH. On this particular count, the officials are silent, and the aggregate French numbers suggest that – on the FTTH side at least – the impact is anecdotal.

Is France Telecom looking for a way to pull out of this strategy under the cover of "legal uncertainties" ? It's a distinct possibility…