TF1 with forced march towards digital

TF1 with forced march towards digital

© Supplied by La Tribune
Gilles Pelisson, CEO of TF1.

Objective fulfilled for TF1. The television group, which presented its 2019 results on Friday, was targeting a double-digit margin rate. This ultimately amounted to 10.9%. At the same time, its sales increased by 2.1%, to 2.33 billion euros, for a net profit of almost 155 million euros. Only downside, the advertising revenues of its channels fell 1.3% to 1.56 billion euros. Not enough, however, to worry the staff of TF1. According to Philippe Denery, the group’s chief financial officer, this drop is mainly due to a high comparison base, with the broadcast of the Football World Cup in 2018. According to him, TF1 continues to resist well and to attract spectators as advertisers. As proof, its market share stabilized at 32.6% on its target audience, “women responsible for purchases under the age of 50”. A figure which is also welcomed by Gilles Pelisson, the CEO of TF1, since it allows the group to keep its rival M6 at bay, “Which is 21%”.

Above all, TF1 believes that it is on the right track to succeed in its digital transformation, perceived as essential in the face of competition from Internet giants and video-on-demand platforms such as Netflix. Faced with these siphoners of audience and advertising, which are gradually diverting young people from traditional “linear” television, TF1 counter-attacks in all directions. The group, which now describes itself as “total video”, has notably given new life to MyTF1, its replay platform. In addition to viewing programs, newspapers and series aired on the air, it is now enriched with its own content, underlines Gilles Pelisson. According to him, mayonnaise has taken, and especially among 16-24 year olds who represent a quarter of the profiles registered. As proof, the 1.8 billion videos seen on the platform last year, a figure up 24% from a year ago. “We often say that MyTF1 is the sixth channel in the group”, adds the CEO.

The Marmiton redesign

The other battle of TF1 is directly on the Web. To diversify its advertising revenue, the group is betting big on its digital pole. Called Unify, it includes sites with a large audience, such as Aufeminin and Doctissimo. For TF1, the objective is to create maximum synergies and bridges with its traditional television activities, to offer brands the possibility of communicating on all media. This is the case with Marmiton, whose brand has been “Recast to make it more attractive”. The platform displays 21.4 million users per month, and now has a short program on TF1 as on digital.

For the moment, Unify is nevertheless far from having the expected results. In 2019, its current operating profit amounted to 11.7 million euros, down 0.6 million. For Gilles Pelisson, this result “Not very glorious” is linked to the deep reorganization of the pole. In particular, advertising management was unified, and a new management team was installed at the controls. “Today, Unify is in a good position to bounce back”, assures Gilles Pelisson. A rebound that he set at “At least 250 million euros” in turnover, against 173 million last year.

The arrival of Salto, the French Netflix

On the video-on-demand front, TF1 is participating with France Televisions and M6 in the development of Salto, the “French Netflix” whose launch is planned for this year. Many are wondering if the platform will have enough backbones to survive, while competition is raging between the services of Netflix, Amazon, Apple and soon Disney. To make a nest in France, Salto, whose subscription will be between 5 and 10 euros per month, plays the tailor-made card, with selected content “Exclusively for a French audience”, recently said its new CEO, Thomas Folin, at Figaro. TF1 which, like France Televisions and M6, is putting 45 million into the adventure, believes in it.

Today, the Bouygues group subsidiary considers itself in line with its ambition to brand spectators in their pants in all media to preserve its advertising revenue. “In 2019, we showed our ability to be profitable to continue our transformation by developing new activities”, says Philippe Denery. According to him, the group is also “Year after year, less dependent on television advertising, he continues. In 2016, we were 74% dependent on it, compared to 64% today. “ A trend that has, of course, vocation to go crescendo.


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