New HD DTT channels to shake French TV market

Pascale Paoli-Lebailly

The French TV market are set to be shaken up by news of the arrival of six new HD DTT channels in 2012.
The call for bids for the new channels was recently launched by CSA and at launch the new channels will be offered to a quarter of the population. According to a new study monitored by NPA and Havas Media, the new channels are forecast to withdraw by 2015 between 4.9% and 7.9% of audience shares from already existing national channels.

This scheme is based on the hypothesis that CSA would select six free channels, including three full genre channels and three theme channels. The new offer would bite shares to historical channels, whose global audience would fall to 56.3% in 2015 vs 65.3% in 2011.

Existing DTT channels such as TMC, BFM TV, France 4, or Gulli were predicted to keep rising to reach 27.1% in 2015 vs 23% today.

A second hypothesis—based on the CSA’s choice of three full-genre channels, one thematic and two existing channels upgraded to HD—gives new HD channels a 5.6 % audience share by 2015.

However, the study points out the advertising market, stable over the last ten years at €3.5 billion will not be boosted by the advent of new channels. On the contrary, it even can’t bear the creation of additional channels.

“One channel needs a €40 million investment annually and the advertising market has no capacity to endorse an additional amount of €240 million to make six new channels live,” Havas Media added.

Normally it takes five to six years for a channel to break even and since the launch in 2005 of French existing new DTT channels such as NRJ 12, Direct 8, NT1, Gulli, BFM TV, W9 was the only one profitable in 2010.

Some 20 channels or projects have recently let know they would apply to the new CSA call for tenders.