TV5Monde launching iPhone app

Educational app part of its global media strategy

PARIS -- TV5Monde is set to launch an educational iPhone application Monday as part of its global media multiplatform strategy.

The world's only international Francophone general-interest channel has been setting its sights stateside with a series of new initiatives. TV5Monde launched a VOD portal on New Orleans cable system Cox last week and plans to air a new program focusing on Francophone events within the U.S. within the coming months.

TV5Monde's first iPhone application "7 Jours sur la Planete" (7 days on the planet) is initially aimed at English language speakers, but the network will soon be adding German, Spanish and Japanese to its menu languages.

The iPhone app enables users to learn about 30 words directly related to the international week's news and is updated every Saturday.

The app, which includes games such as anagrams, quizzes and word searches- developed by Novedia, is part of the "Learning and Teaching French with TV5Monde" initiative which helps tens of thousands of "students" learn French thanks to interactive exercises on the web.

Real French-language professors from all over the world upload lessons and exercises for web users at every minute. TV5Monde's website has seen exponential growth recently, with users increasing by 45% from December 2008 to December 2009 and a 48% jump in hits during the month of January 2010 alone to 9.5 million.

TV5Monde is currently seen in more than 207 million homes connected in almost 200 countries and territories and subtitled in 10 different languages to ensure culture-specific programming. All of TV5Monde's nine separate regional frequencies are tailored to their specific regions. "This regionalization allows us to adapt our programming to specific time zones and audiences, to facilitate acquisitions for recent films by making territory-specific purchases and also to subtitle our programs in viewers' native tongues," TV5Monde's Managing Director Marie-Christine Saragosse said in an interview.

The channel also plans to expand its multiplatform access with the launch of VOD portal Universcine, which will officially launch in May during this year's Festival de Cannes. TV5Monde buys 250 French films a year to air on its nine networks. TV5Monde already offers documentary and theatrical programming in its VOD store in addition to its new New Orleans-focused VOD channel on Cox which already offers more than 10 hours of programming.

The new VOD channel offers a selection of programs featuring French culture in Louisiana including documentaries, cooking, travel and Cajun and Creole music shows such as "Gumb-Oh! La! La!" or "Destinations Gout." TV5Monde has plans to expand this region-specific VOD service in other cities worldwide and are currently in discussions with cable operators across the globe.

"We realize that we have strong and intimate relationships with many of our distributors across the world, it's not simply commercial. We're really looking to evolve on the American market," Saragosse said.

TV5Monde is currently the leading non-Anglophone and non-Hispanic network in the US and 57% of TV5Monde's US viewers aren't originally French-language speakers or hail from Francophone countries. "A language isn't simply a way to communicate, it's a way to create ideas," Saragosse said of the language learning focus of the channel.

In addition to its programming, TV5Monde sponsors a series of US-based Francophone events including the recently wrapped Unifrance Rendez-Vous with French Cinema at Lincoln Center and the COL COA French film fest in LA among others. TV5Monde plans to air a new bi-monthly program focusing on these events, which marks the first time the channel will cover Francophone events in a non-Francophone country like the US.

A basic version of TV5Monde's new iPhone app will be available free of charge, and the full version for 3.99 euros ($5.49) and just 2.39 euros ($3.29) during a promotional launch through March 31.
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