The duel for tube supremacy between France’s TF1 and M6 (both involved as shareholders in satellite platform TPS) is not over yet. Abandoning its dream of allying with media tycoon Rupert Murdoch’s TFX dedicated channel for the 15 to 35 demo, TF1 has announced it will launch TF2, a channel devoted to live-action series, by the end of 1999 or in early 2000. Backed by a global budget of US$8.1 million to US$9.7 million, TF2 will be transmitted on cable and satellite. The venture will tread on territory staked out by M6, which launched a similar thematic channel called Série Club a few years ago. To keep one step ahead, M6 announced launch plans for two new channels. M6 Famille, a family-oriented offering slated to carry toon series and discovery programs for kids, will tap a project budget of US$8.1 million. The channel will also repurpose science and sport programming adapted from M6 productions Sports Evénements and E=M6 to attract teenagers. At press time, no launch date for M6 Famille had been set. Scheduled to make its tube debut in fourth quarter is M6′s multimedia project Multi-TV. A partnership with telephone operator France Telecom, this channel will target a broad audience among cable and satellite subscribers with programming that explores the realm of new media.
Spurring the push to launch thematic channels are the results of the annual Audicabsat survey, which showed that France’s terrestrial networks are losing ground in the kids TV market in the face of heightened eyeball competition from dedicated cable and satellite channels. Released in March, the study revealed that dedicated channels garner more kid viewers than ever before-with total audience share growing from 48.4% in 1998 to 51.9% this year.
TF1 stays on top of the initialized children’s category (kids with access to both terrestrial nets and cable and satellite channels) with 26.9%, followed by M6 (11.1%) and then Teletoon (7.2%), which offers French and European animated series.
Conducted by audience measurement body Mediametrie last November and December, the study also showed that the cable and satellite crowd won more than one-third of the four to 14 TV audience. TPS Jeunesse channel Teletoon topped out this demo with 7.2%, followed by Canal J (6.4%), Disney Channel (6.1%), Fox Kids (5.8%) and Cartoon Network (2.8%).
On the kids ages four to 10 front, dedicated channels beat all networks except TF1 with 25.7%. With a 10.6% audience share, Teletoon was the runner-up, in front of Fox Kids, whose core audience is ages six to 10 (9.5%), Canal J (8.8%), Disney Channel (7.7%) and Cartoon Network (4.5%).