For a decade, the Groupe M6 has been a driving force behind several movements in the French media market. Always listening to its consumers, M6 was the first broadcasting group to offer replay in France, and the first to launch a “meta-brand” uniting the entire group’s content on one platform. As the industry continues to evolve, it becomes essential for broadcasters to move a step forward and to ensure a direct to client model (which means to be in control of distribution and access to data and to the client). Thomas Follin, Deputy General Director of M6 Web, and Director of Distribution for Groupe M6’s Channels and Audio-visual Services, tells us more about the digital and innovation strategy at Groupe M6.
What role does 6play have in the French digital landscape?
At M6, we have always been pioneers in the digital transformation of our output through 6play. Since the very beginning, Groupe M6 has given more priority to digital evolutions than its broadcasting competitors have. Where, in broadcasting, there is a significant audience difference between TF1 and M6, in digital, M6 is neck and neck with TF1 on commercial targets (WRP), and even takes the lead in the 15-24 and 15-34 age groups.
6play contributes to more than 4% of Groupe M6’s audience, depending on target groups. In comparison, France Télévisions and the TF1 group are positioned around 2%. Digital has a dominant position within M6.
Is this related to the younger target audience of Groupe M6?
Several factors come into play. 6play is known as a successful product in the market, and is different from other services. It is an easy-to-use product in an elegant setting. What’s more, our communication strategy is orientated around usage. The fact that we listen to our consumers allows us to provide a product that responds to their requirements. The nature of our programmes means they are also well suited to digital use.
What is the typical profile of a 6play user?
A little younger and more feminine than our linear TV viewers. Our core target is women aged 15-34. But we nevertheless appeal to an extremely wide range of viewers. Women aged 35-49, for example, are some of the target audience that our platform attracts particularly well. We therefore continue to perform very strongly in the 35+ bracket. Our TV and mobile platforms are also very complementary: males represent 40% of our monthly video on demand users on the TV screen.
What content can be found on the platform?
Today, 6play is the platform that hosts all the content from Groupe M6. Among the group’s content and channels, there are also paid channels. Content on Téva and Paris Première is accessible on the platform, but they require paid subscriptions. In terms of accessibility, several years ago we introduced obligatory subscription to access content. This has enabled us to offer a personalized service and develop a CRM and very precise targeted advertising. We saw this as an important structuring move in anticipation of the market development. For a decade, M6 has been a driving force behind several movements in the French market: second- screen, enriched television, IPTV, consistently 12-18 months ahead of the market. And this is a real indicator of what 6play is in France. It is important to know that we were the first to offer replay in France, and also the first to launch a “meta-brand” uniting the entire group’s content on one platform.
What is your policy concerning the data acquired from user accounts?
A person who subscribes to 6play provides their email address, age, gender, and shares their interests related to our channels and content, such as their favourite presenters and programmes. It is clear that our consumers are comfortable with this process: in order to progress to the next step, just three examples are required, but the average number given is between five and six. The users know that their information will result in a better-structured offer. What’s more, half of our users connect via Facebook, from which we collect their interests, their likes etc. The Groupe M6 also owns multiple portal sites with a variety of themes, e.g. Cuisine AZ, on which we receive visits from 6play users. And there is of course all the activity carried out directly on 6play. We know exactly what device the user is accessing from, how they have been using the service and for how long. All this together gives us a large quantity of information that we use across 150 profile types in order to offer personalized recommendations. We also create specific custom segments designed for targeted ads or CRM campaigns to maximize marketing performance while ensuring a very smooth user experience. The data also helps us to enhance our content strategy regarding outside catch-up content. These days, over 30% of consumption occurs outside catch-up windows. In this 30%, a lot of content is not broadcast, and is only available on 6play. We do both the acquisition and the production of content. It’s a very strong strategy and we believe that, in the next months or years, the non-catch-up part will grow to more than 50%, and will represent the majority of use. So it’s really quite significant. And that’s what we work a lot on.
Which content is produced exclusively for these platforms?
There is the content we have acquired, like TV films, soaps and documentaries. We’ve had enough time to test what works and what doesn’t. In terms of production, following the success of the Les Reines du Shopping (Shopping Queens) for example, we rolled out the concept and produced Les Reines du Make-Up exclusively for the platform. It is the same principle, the same producer, but the presenter is different and the show focuses on make-up. It has been a huge success! Each 12-minute episode does more-or-less as well as an episode of Les Reines du Shopping.
Shouldn’t that go on to TV?
It could absolutely go on TV. That’s the whole principle of 6play: you’re only going to find television programmes. There are no YouTube videos, for example, that’s not our angle.
What’s your user recruitment and retention strategy?
Today we have 22 million subscribed users. Recruitment is centred on our brands and programmes. Each time a programme might be of interest for certain profiles, we will push it on these user profiles to encourage them to return to the platform, with messages that change depending on whether they are regular users or not. We have refocused our approach to be client-centric, not focused on an anonymous viewer we don’t know. We want to make television that is relevant and intuitive, and promote programmes that are adapted to the public’s tastes and of-the-moment preferences. Television that is customized and unlimited.
What are your anticipated short and long term developments?
The industry is evolving and, as a broadcaster, it’s becoming essential to be in control of our distribution, our access to data, and to the client. In this objective, Salto is truly a strategical move. We’re fully invested in it. Salto is a French platform where all the content from the Groupe M6, TF1 and France Télévisions, as well as other types of content, will be available, presented in the most efficient way. Salto users will have access to a television content offer, and a FVOD offer that will promote French and European productions. The two services will be complementary.
Have you seen any trends within programming? Is there any content coming out on OTT?
There aren’t any significant evolutions when it comes to TV content. However, in the digital market, we’re closely following what’s happening with long format vertical videos (Instagram TV). The podcast is growing too, we’re following it, and the French RTL radio stations help us in this sector. For all short formats, we often see the opposite effect; the innovators are those who want to move into TV broadcasting. Examples include Casa de Papel on Netflix, the Premier League on Amazon, and even Facebook, which finances information shows… The major change is the one-to-one relationship that broadcasters and publishers develop with the consumer, as opposed to the content itself. Triple play is a truly a distinct feature in France, the television screen is the main source of non-linear TV content consumption, which is not the case in other countries. This changes things completely. 75% of 6play audiences come from television screens in France. In all the other European countries, it is less than 10%. Today, on average, we are three times higher than our neighbors in terms of consumption volumes. France is very ahead of its time in that field.
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