For French citizens living abroad, TV5MONDE has long served as a link back home, delivering French-language sports, news, drama and entertainment to 200-plus markets. The global broadcaster has built up a significant presence in the Asia Pacific with two feeds, TV5MONDE Asie and TV5MONDE Pacifique. Alexandre Muller, managing director of TV5MONDE Asia-Pacific, tells TV Asia about the growth of the broadcaster’s regional presence and his plans for tapping into the continued demand from Francophiles across the continent.
TV ASIA: What are the major developments you’ve seen in your AsiaPac business over the last year?
MULLER: TV5MONDE has been available in the Asia Pacific since 1996 and moved its [regional] headquarters to Hong Kong 11 years ago. Since then, the development of TV5MONDE’s portfolio has seen a continuous growth from 18 million subscribers in 2007 to over 100 million this year.
The overall distribution has grown by 9 percent since last year on traditional cable, satellite and IPTV, and has boomed to over 200 million mobile users on OTT, mostly driven by India (including Reliance Jio and NexGTv), but also by new players like OONA in Indonesia.
TV ASIA: What new markets are opening up for you? And where has your business been the strongest?
MULLER: On both traditional and OTT distribution, the Indian subcontinent remains the biggest market for TV5MONDE in the Asia Pacific (and worldwide), representing over 70 percent of the channel’s global reach in the region. Nevertheless, out-of-home distribution (i.e., hotels and universities) represents a substantial source of revenue with over 160,000 hotel rooms (the vast majority in China) officially carrying at least one of our channels.
On the distribution front, the team is active in all markets, including smaller countries, and recent successes include Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Maldives and Sri Lanka, among others. Malaysia remains a work-in-progress market, as well as Australia and New Zealand, where our reach remains poor and which represent a priority in the coming years.
TV ASIA: What initiatives have you engaged in off-screen to further build the brand?
MULLER: On the marketing front, the team has been very active and engaged with viewers off-screen, through both traditional and digital means. TV5MONDE has supported a vast number of French film festivals all over the region. TV5MONDE also supported the second edition of the Seoul Pride Film Festival this year, with a special screening of the French award-winning web TV series Les engagés. TV5MONDE’s “Teach & Learn French” online language-training program has also been a real asset in the region. We partnered with a large number of learning centers. Social media is a must where we engage with 2.5 million-plus fans in four languages (French, English, Japanese and Korean) on Facebook, Twitter, Kakao and Instagram.
TV ASIA: Tell us about how TV5MONDE is making its content available on as many platforms as possible to expand your reach.
MULLER: To remain relevant and attractive to our partners, TV5MONDE has been very active with nonlinear and OTT initiatives since 2002. Apart from providing operators with additional rights such as catch-up and VOD, we also created our own OTT service, TV5MONDE+ Asie, both as a B2C and authenticated service for B2B.
TV ASIA: Are there particular types of content—sports, lifestyle, drama—resonating most with your viewers?
MULLER: The unique format of TV5MONDE regional channels resonates well in the region. If sport (French football’s Ligue 1 Conforama and rugby) and drama series are the most popular genres in most countries on pay-TV services, news and documentary are essential to out-of-home operators. The recent addition of TV5MONDE Style, a full HD thematic French lifestyle channel, to our portfolio, 100 percent subtitled in both traditional and simplified Chinese as well as English, serves as a firm offer in this part of the world, allowing us to enlarge our proposal to the public, and progressively help our partners to switch from SD to HD.
TV ASIA: What do you see as the greatest challenges and opportunities for TV5MONDE Asia-Pacific in 2019?
MULLER: The SD/HD transition has been nearly [completed] in the Pacific region; the switch to HD will remain a challenge in most countries in Asia over the coming years. To continue being relevant to the market, we will, therefore, need to reinvent ourselves, adapting our offers and services to the growing needs of both traditional and new players. That surely represents a challenge, but if we manage to do so, I believe this will open plenty of further opportunities.