Netflix will launch on French telco's set-top boxes

A local competitor tried to steal Netflix' thunder with the launch of its own video-on-demand service on the Netflix launched in France

Video on-demand service Netflix is expanding in Europe and will soon appear on the set-top boxes of French telecom operator Bouygues Telecom, the operator said on Monday.

Netflix launched in France on Monday, and Bouygues Telecom said it will introduce the subscription service on its set-top boxes from November. As of Monday, the operator's customers will also be able to watch Netflix on all their connected devices, including TVs and 4G mobiles, it added.

The deal with one of France's biggest telecom operators signals a big win for Netflix, which has faced resistance from the French government to its entry into the market, according to local media reports.

Stumbling blocks to Monday's launch included rules that protect the French film and TV industry from foreign competition, and provide support for movie theaters. Under the rules, video-on demand services cannot stream movies for three years after their cinema release, and streaming services based in France with earnings over €10 million annually must pay an additional levy to support French and European film makers, according to the reports.

The French government is now looking to cut the waiting period for movie streaming from three years back to two, according to reports.

Meanwhile, Netflix is immediately facing competition in France. Over the weekend, local cable TV company Numericable announced it would also launch a video on-demand service in France on Monday, offering free access to 3,000 TV episodes for its subscribers. It highlighted the U.S. TV series Mad Men as well as Disney movies and French content in its news release.

Netflix is also set to launch in Germany and has announced plans to launch in Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg this month. The service is already available in the U.K., Ireland, Finland, Norway and Sweden since 2012; and the service launched in the Netherlands in 2013.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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