I'm often the first to proudly puff out my chest when talking about our TV, but I should be worried about that.
End-of-year shows may suggest that our television is in full swing and will always prevail, but that's dreaming in color. How illusory are the ratings of Radio-Canada and TVA if we compare them to those often starved of the three English-language Canadian networks.
That daily series like Stat and Indefensible are neck and neck in the polls with around 1.5 million viewers each is an astonishing phenomenon that no one anticipated. Not even me ! This means that at 7 p.m., on the first four evenings of the week, nearly two out of three French-speaking Quebecers aged 7 and over are glued to one or the other of these series.
LISTENING IS IN FREE FALL
This is all the more remarkable given that the so-called “linear” television, that is to say the one we watch at the time of its broadcast, is in free fall all over the world.
Only sports matches, disasters, tragedies and major election nights escape the trend.
The confinement imposed by the COVID-19 epidemic had temporarily halted the decline in listening, but the erosion resumed its pace last fall. It is even accelerating and inflation is not helping matters.
Circulation platforms are expensive and households are abandoning the cable that gave them privileged access to linear television.
In Quebec, another phenomenon threatens viewing, as 20% of young Francophones aged 2 to 17 and 72% of young people from ethnic minorities watch television and films in English every day. This shortfall of our French-language TV is far from being compensated by the few English speakers who watch it. Barely 8% tune in to it every day. Don't be surprised that the vast majority of young people don't know who Véronique Cloutier is!
WE WANT ENGLISH MUSIC
Should we also be surprised that so many variety shows, whether Live from the Universe, Revolution or The Voice, present so many American hits? I learned last summer that the big Saturday night variety show hosted by France Beaudoin requires its guests that their picks include a certain number of English-language songs. Isn't that what the audience wants to hear? In 2022, 30% of albums sold in Quebec feature local artists, but these account for only 8% of listening on Spotify, YouTube and Google Play.
To compensate for the loss of their audiences to Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, YouTube and the others, our TV networks have created – much too late, by the way – their own streaming platforms. But it's also a way to shoot yourself in the foot. Those who watch a new series on Tou.tv, Crave or illico rarely watch it a second time on Radio-Canada, TVA or Noovo.
Our original programs, whether fiction, documentaries, variety or series for children, are subsidized, directly or indirectly, up to 50% or more of their cost. Without this help, neither the Bye bye, nor Stat, nor Indefensible would exist. How not to worry about a television whose future depends solely on the help we want to give it?