V skews young, TVA targets families

Quebec's number one network changes strategy with roll-out of five new dramas, facing re-energized and news-light competition.

The race to draw Quebec viewers is a bit tighter this fall with the launch of V, the re-branded TQS dedicated to attracting young pleasure seekers.

‘TQS’s comeback introduces another player that wasn’t there last year. We now have more competition,’ says Nicole Tardif, spokeswoman for Quebec’s most-watched network, TVA. ‘And they have a very clear focus. They really want to attract young people.’

Although V is slim on hard news, following its recent and controversial reworking by new owners at Remstar, the network launched the much-anticipated current affairs panel show Dumont 360 on Labour Day – to mixed reviews in Montreal’s popular press. The 60-minute program airs Mondays at 5 p.m. and is hosted by Mario Dumont, the ex-leader of Quebec’s conservative l’Action démocratique party.

The bulk of V’s new shows are Quebec versions of reality formats popular elsewhere, including Wipeout, Le Mur, (based on a Japanese game show), Taxi payant (Cash Cab) and La guerre des clans (Family Feud). French-language versions of South Park, Entourage, The Mentalist, Lie to Me, Fringe and Private Practice are also programmed in primetime. A spokesperson for V was not available for comment on this story.

‘TQS has purchased a lot of solid properties,’ says Tardif. ‘So we are trying to compete by offering more family-oriented TV. Programs that are attractive to people of all ages.’

By launching five new dramas in 2009/10, TVA is departing from its usual strategy of relying on old favorites to draw audiences. Two new hour-long dramas will air this fall: the telenovella Yamaska and the police drama Le gentleman. ‘It’s quite a major year for us. Some of our old favorites have ended their run, so it’s time to offer something new,’ says Tardif.

Yamaska follows four 20-somethings and their parents and airs Monday at 8 p.m. opposite the popular Radio-Canada soap L’Auberge du chien noir and a dubbed version of CSI New York on TQS. Le gentleman will start on TVA at the beginning of October, on Thursdays at 9 p.m., and is up against the SRC comedy show 3600 secondes d’extase.

Both TVA and SRC are relying on established properties to draw viewers on Sunday night, the most popular time-slot in Quebec, while TQS will broadcast movies starting at 8 p.m. On TVA beginning at 7 p.m. is the highly rated Quebec version of Deal or No Deal, Le Banquier, hosted by producer Julie Snyder, followed by the sixth edition of the reality dating show Occupation Double at 8 p.m. SRC’s talk-fest Tout le monde en parle, now beginning its sixth season and still one of the most popular shows in the province will also return at 8 p.m.

In 2010 TVA will launch three other dramas: Rock and Rolland, a comedy about two retired men who can’t adjust to not working; Tranches de vie (Slices of Life), a comedy about modern family life; and Toute la vérité (The Whole Truth), about Crown prosecutors.

More than 8,500 fans have signed up for the hockey reality show Montreal-Quebec which will also begin in January. In it, coaches Guy Carbonneau and Michel Bergeron will travel around Quebec visiting hockey rinks and choosing the best amateur players – both men and women – to play games in Montreal and Quebec City.

From Playback Daily