Originally scheduled to go dark August 9, the pandemic has provided a brief reprieve for France Télévisions’ France 4. The kids channel is making the most of the delayed closure by ordering a spate of educational shows to engage kids as return-to-school plans remain in flux.
News that the channel would remain on air through until August 2021 came earlier this month. The previous decision to shutter France 4 stemmed from declining audience numbers, as well as the launch of VOD platform Okoo in December 2019. Yet the COVID-19 lockdown in France has helped bring viewership back up, with more than one million kids currently tuning in daily.
Keeping the channel on air will allow the pubcaster to meet increased demand from families spending more time at home, while also supplementing kids’ education in a time when return-to-classroom plans are fraught with uncertainty, according to a statement from Roselyne Bachelot, the French government’s minister of culture.
To make the most of its extra time on air, beginning in September, France 4 is pivoting to primarily focus on educational programming for families, as opposed to a more general kids content slate. While kids are likely at school, it will fill its afternoon blocks with new parent-skewing fare including La maison des maternelles and La maison des parents, which focus on advice for parents of preschoolers and older kids, respectively. The channel will also launch specials for parents about France’s education system during COVID-19, starting with documentary Back to School 2o20 (pictured), which explores how schools are adapting to the pandemic.
For kids, the pubcaster will roll out daily science, culture, art, nature and history content through the new educational series Lumni. France 4 is also allocating a portion of its evening airtime to educational lessons in new episodes of Club Lumni, featuring educators and animated characters teaching on different curriculum-driven topics.
Despite the increased focus on learning, France 4 will continue to dedicate blocks to its kids brand Okoo, which features programming for four to 12s.
The pubcaster has been steadily increasing its education-focused content during the pandemic with shows like new 52-minute educational series La Maison Lumni. In June, Tiphaine de Raguenel, France’s Televisions’ director of young audiences and animation, told Kidscreen that education content was performing well, and she wanted more of it in the future.