TF1 enjoyed dominant '06


PARIS -- French commercial broadcaster TF1 ended 2006 with record ratings, boasting 98 of the top 100 programs in France for the year, one more than in 2005. It is the broadcaster's best annual result since 1991, despite a 0.7% drop in market share, to 31.6%.

The channel's primetime market share increased to 300,000 viewers (0.8% more than in 2005) with an average 7.6 million viewers and 34.1% share.

TF1 owes a large part of its success to its World Cup coverage, with soccer matches taking the top nine spots among TV viewers older than four years of age, according to a Mediametrie industry survey released Wednesday.

The year's most-watched program was the July 5 France vs. Portugal World Cup semifinal, which brought in an unprecedented 22.2 million viewers and a 76.7% audience share.

Cult classic movies "Les Bronzes" and "Les Bronzes font du Ski" attracted an average of 12.4 million viewers and a 46.1% audience share. French fiction series accounted for 47 of the top 100 spots, including new Gallic forensics drama "RIS," miniseries "Marie Besnard" and telefilm "Monsieur Leon."

Hit U.S. series -- including "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "CSI: Miami" and "CSI: NY" -- occupied 14 of the top 100 spots, while an airing of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl" brought in 11.4 million viewers and a 45.8% share.

France 2, France 3 and M6 achieved their best performances with fiction series -- "Without a Trace" and "David Nolande" for France 2, "Louis la Brocante" and "Plus Belle la Vie" for France 3 and "Prison Break," "NCIS" and "Desperate Housewives" on M6.

France 2, which lost 0.6 points and fell to a 19.2% share, achieved its top figures with French feature film "Les Choristes" -- 11.5 million viewers and a 42.7% share. France 3 was the only major terrestrial channel to remain unchanged in 2006, maintaining its 14.7% share.

M6's audience numbers increased more than any other major French channel in primetime, with a record audience of 3.5 million TV viewers in the first part of the evening (300,000 more than in 2005), the company announced in a statement. M6 also was the most-watched primetime channel by the under-50 crowd. The network ended the year with a 12.5% share, just 0.1 points less than last year.
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