Expanded agreement gives French incumbent full access to network’s content catalogue.

Orange Cinema Series (OCS) late on Tuesday announced it will become the exclusive broadcaster of HBO content in France, under an expanded agreement with the premium content network.

OCS is a package of movie and TV channels owned and operated by Orange. It has been a partner of HBO’s since its launch in 2008, and over the years, the two companies have gradually extended the scope of their agreement, so that now, HBO shows are shown in France just 24 hours after they are first broadcast in the U.S., on OCS’s US+24 service. In 2015, OCS offered subscribers the chance to watch seasons five and six of Game of Thrones at the same time as it was shown in the States.

The current agreement was due to expire in 2018, but it has now been extended and expanded.

"With this renewed, wide-ranging contract, OCS will ultimately become the sole broadcaster of HBO programmes in France," OCS said in a statement, adding that when the new deal becomes effective, it will have access to HBO’s entire catalogue.

The company said HBO content is integral to its positioning.

"With the extension and expansion of the alliance with the most prestigious brand in television series production, OCS will significantly enrich the content of its offer and of its use," OCS said.

Indeed, Paolo Pescatore, vice president of multiplay and media at CCS Insight, said the agreement underscores the growing importance of content to telcos.

"It will also be a major blow to rivals, especially Canal+, who is struggling to maintain its position in the market," he said. "However, SFR, through its parent Altice, has been forging numerous partnerships with content providers and poses a considerable threat to Orange."

With that in mind, partnerships like the one between OCS and HBO, are critical.

"Securing exclusivity of key TV shows will be paramount in driving and maintaining subscribers," Pescatore said.