As the teen demographic around the world continues its astronomical growth in terms of both sheer population and spending power, global broadcasters are waking up to the moneymaking potential that lies in specifically targeting the young adult set. Recent developments in the French market exemplify this mass recognition and hail the dawning of the teen era.
TF1′s new teen offering
After measuring the growing interest from teenagers and young adults for series such as Saint-Tropez, Melrose Place and other Aaron
Spelling productions (not to mention the accompanying advertising bonanza), private group TF1 has announced it will launch a cable and satellite channel exclusively dedicated to teenagers and young adults ages 15 to 35 in the year 2000 or 2001.
This project, placed under the developing responsibility of Jean-Guilhem Lerouge, has been called, for the time being, TFX (standing for TF1 and Fox). Following TF1′s takeover of Fox boss Rupert Murdoch’s company News Corp. Europe last November, this new channel could be a joint venture between the two groups, helping Murdoch enter the French market.
But as TF1′s CEO Patrick Le Lay intends to launch the channel on cable and satellite platform TPS, M6 (also transmitted on the platform) raises the objection that TFX would be unfair competition. Since its creation 10 years ago, M6′s main target has been the 15 to 35 demographic, and the channel is threatening to discontinue its exclusivity on TPS.
Hip mag series cleans up in France 2′s new teen slot
France 2 has established a new prime-time slot for young adults (ages 15 to 25) from 5:25 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays. The opening, which launched in January, houses Rince ta Baignoire (literally Rinse your Bathtub), a magazine show that has consistently garnered a 15% to 15.5% weekly audience share since its October launch in the channel’s Saturday morning block.
In the Wednesday slot, Rince ta Baignoire is being broadcast between Tides of Life, a French series (produced by TéléImages) about the complex relationships between parents and teenagers in a small town, and U.S. sitcom Friends.
Initiated and produced by Rachel Kahn, who heads up France 2′s youth department, Rince ta Baignoire is structured as a fresh and dynamic half-hour info magazine hosted by a team of six young reporters. Each week, it explores various themes relating to life and culture of the 15 to 25 set. Matters dealt with range from rap music, to drug use, to life at home with parents, and each show has at least one special guest, generally from the music scene.
Pick-ups from Nelvana pad prime-time Teletoon teen opening
Teletoon France, the all-animation kids channel transmitted on TPS, is opening up a new prime-time slot targeted to older teens in the next six months. The channel picked up Bob & Margaret , which will air in the slot, through a multiyear output deal with Nelvana (effective January 1) that stipulates Teletoon will annually acquire 200 half-hours (about 10 series) of original Nelvana product, as well as co-producing at least one 26 x 26-minute series each year. Among younger-skewing Nelvana series to air on Teletoon this year are Dumb Bunnies, Birdz and Franklin.
The partnership with Nelvana is a natural progression; the two companies have paired up in the past to produce series like Flying Rhino Junior High, a co-venture between Nelvana, TF1 and Neurones that was pre-sold to Teletoon (which had invested US$177,000), as well as Jean-Luc & Faipassa, a 39 x 40-second educational series co-produced by Teletoon, Nelvana and Canal+ that will launch on Teletoon in November.
‘Our interest is double,’ comments François Deplanck, Teletoon’s GM. ‘As competition and market segmentation are tougher, our first priority is to secure the acquisition of exclusive programs with output deals for catalog and original productions. Secondly, we look forward to developing and internationally co-producing more original creations and concepts from France.’
Since its launch two years ago, Teletoon’s programming budget for acquisitions, co-productions and schedule design has doubled from US$1.8 million to US$4.1 million for the 1998/99 season.
In related news, Nelvana has signed a first-time volume deal with Buena Vista International Television for the acquisition of programming to be broadcast on Disney Channel in Spain and Italy. Buena Vista will pick up two to four series a year, including Ned’s Newt, Franklin, Stickin’ Around, Sam and Max, Little Bear, Jake and the Kid, Birdz and Rupert.