Groupe V targets women with new specialty offering

The Quebec-based broadcaster has partnered with Lagardère Group to bring the Elle brand to TV.
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Groupe V is hoping to recapture the specialty lightning in a bottle from its recent Max rebrand. The Quebec-based broadcaster is prepping to launch another specialty channel, Elle Fictions, which will specialize in female-targeted scripted series and movies.

The launch is part of a group-wide effort to rejuvenate its specialty channels, which has been ongoing for several years. It started with Groupe V’s gradual transformation from music-focused network MusiMax into a network specializing in dramas and movies, eventually rebranding it to Max. The result for Max was doubling its audience share; among Quebec specialty channels it ended 2018 ranked third in terms of AMA, with a 2.1% share for the fall (up from 0.9% the previous year). Time spent watching each week is almost five times higher than in 2013, jumping from 32 minutes  to 2.67 hours per viewer.

Then last year, the company began a strategic planning process to explore the programming needs of audiences and see how it could better target them throughout the group.

“We arrived at the new proposition of this channel mainly targeted at women between 25 and 54, with a combination of exclusive new series and nostalgic series,” Dmitri Gourdin, EVP and chief corporate strategy officer, tells MiC.

Groupe V arrived on that audience as its first new target because, according to Gourdin, it’s under-served specifically in the scripted drama genre. “There’s still a lot of space in the media landscape in terms of Francophone programming,” he says. “You have channels that specialize in fiction programming, like Séries+ or Max, but they’re not necessarily focused on women. Then there are a lot of specialty networks that target women, like Canal Vie, but they’re more focused on talk shows and the unscripted lifestyle shows.”

When it started plans for the channel, it approached Lagardère Group, the owner of the international Elle brand, to license the name. “The Elle name is very well-connected to our target audience, so the fit is quite natural,” says Gourdin. “Most importantly, in terms of awareness of the brand, it’s going to be immediate, which is a great challenge when it comes to launching new TV.”

Popular throwback series such as Dawson’s Creek and Gilmore Girls will air in French, as well as newer series like Shonda Rhimes’ For The People (exclusive to Elle Fictions). It also has the exclusive rights to telenovela Pasion Prohibida in French. Gourdin says the focus for the first two years will not be on original content. However, just as with Max, which is now looking to do original content several years after its rebranding, originals are n the cards.

“We want to focus 100% on American and South American acquisitions. Right now, our main goal is to observe the reaction from the audience, test the launch and bring them in with familiar titles.”