Focus groups help to characterize French TV

The doctor with grey hair, the old woman, the single and the intellectual.These are the respective classifications given to Societe Radio-Canada, tva, Television Quatre Saisons and Radio-Quebec when eight focus groups categorized the French networks.Cossette Communication-Marketing sponsored these focus groups last...

The doctor with grey hair, the old woman, the single and the intellectual.

These are the respective classifications given to Societe Radio-Canada, tva, Television Quatre Saisons and Radio-Quebec when eight focus groups categorized the French networks.

Cossette Communication-Marketing sponsored these focus groups last fall to have an early and more thorough understanding of what happened with the last tv season.

Normally, buying television is strictly purchasing programs, but in Quebec, you have to take into consideration the personality of the network before determining your next step.

In May 1993, Cossette also sponsored a quantitative research study of 1,000 respondents in French Quebec to complete the information not available in the industry such as associating network viewership with household income.

The chart on this page will help to quantify their distinctive personalities.

The doctor with grey hair

Societe Radio-Canada is watched on average by 65.3% of the respondents. Radio-Canada reaches as many men as women, being overrepresented specifically in the 35-54 age group, but also by those 55 years plus.

src made two successful moves in increasing its younger audience franchise with the programs Taquinons la planete and L’Enfer c’est nous autres.

However, at the same time, this strategy has contributed to diminishing the sophisticated image of the network.

Compared with tva and tqs, Radio-Canada does well in terms of reaching professionals and influential people. Therefore, it is not surprising that src is the best choice to reach light tv viewers.

The old woman

Although tva is watched by fewer viewers, accounting for 58.3% of respondents, by far the greatest amount of time is spent with tva.

The high concentration of heavy viewers accounts for the dominance tva holds on total viewing hours. Specifically, these heavy viewers are more likely to be female (60% – Spring ’93 BBM) and retired.

tva is the champion of daytime. It has the lowest proportion of professionals and businesspeople (index of 71% to the population) and the greatest concentration of low income households.

tva wants to cultivate a younger audience for next year. Interestingly, it does pretty well with 18-34 year olds.

The reason being, it has two successful series against that target: Chambres en ville and Chop Suey. Image is not always reality – the old woman likes to kick up her heels with young people and rock music.

The single

tqs, which is watched on average by 44.8% of the respondents, does as well as the old woman, tva.

Its personality is inspired in part by its long-lasting program Coup de Foudre (a Dating Game clone), the most disliked program on French tv (according to the focus groups.) The program is not returning.

The station has matured over the year with the addition of two successful programs in primetime: La Guerre des clans (Family Feud) and Sonia Benezra.

These programs were instantly successful, based on our focus groups. They were also the most talked-about programs.

Although tqs is still thought of as very young, the Cossette research determined its audience to be in line with the population.

tqs does well in Quebec City (index 152) compared with the rest of the province. The strong local flavor of its news is partially responsible, which is now the trademark of tqs in Quebec.

The intellectual

Radio-Quebec is watched on average by 15% of respondents with a concentration of women (index 123) 35 years plus.

Radio-Quebec attracts the highest percentage of professionals and businesspeople, as well as specific niche targets on a select basis due to its targetted programs.

By implementing specific programming strategies, the viewership base of the French networks evolves year after year, even if the perception changes slowly.

Top 10 Programs

(Adults 18-49) excluding specials

Scoop III


Just pour rire

Chambres en ville

Surprise sur prise

A nous deux

Taquinons la planete

Beaux Dimanches I


La petite vie (ex aequo)

Claire Lamarche (ex aequo)

Top Five New Programs


A nous deux

La petite vie

Ent’ Cadieux

Les Holden

Pierre Delagrave is national vice-president, media and research at Cossette Communication-Marketing in Quebec City.