Digital TV gathers momentum in France

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PARIS -- French TV viewers embraced the digital revolution in 2007, with audience shares for the country's main terrestrial channels dropping as shares for its digital terrestrial television networks skyrocketed, according to audience measurement service Mediametrie's annual figures.

All of the country's terrestrial non-DTT networks saw a dip in audience shares last year thanks to the country's increasingly popular digital terrestrial channels.

"Other TV," which includes the DTT category, jumped to 17.5% in 2007, compared with 13.8% in 2006, thanks to especially strong end of the year scores: 19.7% in November and 20.8% in December.

French TV network TF1 maintained its No. 1 status in 2007, with 30.7% of total audience shares in the territory over the past year, dropping 0.9 percentage points from 2006.

Public TV group France Televisions' networks France 2 and France 3 followed with 18.1% and 14.7% market shares, respectively. France 2 lost 1.1 points and France 3 0.6 points. Total market share for the group came to 35.2% for 2007, with 3% coming from France 5.

M6 remained in the rear with an average market share of 11.5% in 2007, dropping from 12.5% in 2006.

TF1 boasted the 100 best TV ratings for the year, all channels included. "It's the first time such a score has been reached since the creation of Mediametrie in 1989," TF1 said in a statement.

The network owes such a record to strong market shares for its World Cup Rugby matches, which saw 18.3 million people tune into the semifinal between France and England on Oct. 13, giving TF1 a 67.4% market share for the evening. The Segolene Royale-Nicolas Sarkozy presidential debate attracted 13 million viewers, and the homegrown series "Josephine, Guardian Angel" was the most-watched French fiction program with 11.3 million viewers on March 5.

France 2's Gallic fictional miniseries "Maupassant" brought in an average 8.5 million viewers per episode and the network's "diversity of genres" attracted more than 6 million viewers on 53 occasions, the group said in a statement.

France 3 was the only channel to see an increase in viewers in the daytime 1 p.m.-7 p.m. slot thanks to the huge success of its daily soap "Plus Belle la Vie."

"The ensemble of these results encourages our public group to pursue its strategy: to continue to support creation, culture, discovery and information on all its channels and to propose a different, generous, eventful and innovative television," France Televisions said in a statement.
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