TV Market in France: Interview with Trace Channel

To prepare our central article “BEHIND THE OTHER SIDE OF BLUE SCREENS: THE REAL LIFE OF THE TV “MAGICIAN BOX” we interviewed leading representatives of 11 TV channels around the world and asked them to tell our readers about the TV programming strategies they use. We continue to inform you about peculiarities in different parts of the world. Today let’s have a look at the France together with Olivier Laouchez – the owner of Trace TV and discover what is the Guest Star program and why it is so popular.

1. What is the secret of the effectiveness of your channels feed today?

Remaining true to our brand and relevant at the same time. TRACE evolves with it’s audience, you witness this in both our platforms and content. Our channels were born out of a need to provide an under represented community with entertainment that celebrates urban culture in its greatest form – music. Each feed is closely monitored and adapted to the markets it serves, providing the right balance of TRACE values and cultural relevance.

2. How do you choose the content for prime time? What criteria do you use?

Selecting the content for prime time is based on our own criteria of ‘heat’. We make sure that these evening slots are filled with content that is a hot topic amongst our young audiences at the time. With our urban music channels, the schedulers are working around the clock to determine the artists that will be trending at periods in the year, as well as continuing to monitor the popularity of urban singles around the world. With TRACE sport stars, we make sure to select prime time themes that reflect the ongoing subjects of the sporting world. For example, A World Of Football in June coincides with the COPA America and EURO tournaments.

3. What programs give you the highest rankings now? Why is it so? What do you think about this?

As you can imagine, celebrity features are always the biggest talking point. Our Guest Star programme is formed by exclusive interviews with the most popular urban artists in the world. In Guest Star, the celebs reveals their secrets and their plans for the future. With this programme, viewers get up close with their favourite artists, like never before.

Guest Star has been a firm favourite since TRACE’s inception and we will continue to provide the best artists a platform to promote their music and new ventures. It also takes viewers into a space where they can reach an understanding with their musical heroes and role models, something not always possible through the medium of music. Given the success of this show, we have expanded Guest Star programme to all of our music channels – TRACE Urban, TRACE Tropical, TRACE Africa, TRACE Toca. TRACE Gospel has its own GUEST STAR programme, which is called GLITZ, GLAM & GOSPEL where Mario Winans Jr, a key figure in the Gospel music world, meet up with famous Gospel personnalities in Los Angeles, USA.

4. How do you make decisions about the content before purchasing? How do you determine what would be relevant and in demand and what wouldn’t? What is the deciding factor in your choice?

Purchasing content has become a very large part of our activities more recently because of our work on the TRACE Play platform. We are building this service for viewers who enjoy urban culture. It was important to identify content that would not just resonate with our audience, but also entertain, empower, and engage them. In each territory we will launch, the teams have been working on identifying unique, trendy, and popular programming that will make TRACE Play a must-have amongst the Afro-urban population in that region.

5. When planning your feed, do you think about the content source country? How important is it?

It is something we do consider, but does not neccessarily play a huge part in the decision for programming on the feed – it really depends on the channel. TRACE sources content from across the world, and makes sure it fits our urban music programming and sport lifestyle themes respectively. With TRACE Tropical and Toca, the source country, or region, will more than most times be the same, e.g Angola for Toca and Latin America as the music on this channel. TRACE Urban has hip-hop from across the world, with the South African and Rest Of Africa feed containing localised content. These are just some examples of our views on the source country, we try and localise where possible but remain providing the best content from the channel’s vertical.

6. I know that last year you entered the winners list Eutelsat TV Awards. What was the key to this success?

Yes indeed,TRACE Sport Stars was honoured with the best TV channel in the “lifestyle” category. Being the world’s premier television channel exclusively dedicated to the lives of stars in the world of sports, TRACE Sport Stars still boasts no direct competition worldwide. Launched four years ago, the channel is actively viewed in over 100 countries.Thanks to our privileged access to athletes, we are able to take viewers into the lives, passions, commitments, and secrets of sport’s biggest entertainers. This unique positioning made us an attractive proposition for the award.

7. As the winner, what privileges do you have?

I was given a beautiful trophy to commemorate the occasion. We also received heavy social media coverage through retweets and like on our TRACE Sport Stars twitter and facebook pages. The pickup was understandably generous too, with the announcement of our success receiving heavy coverage across Europe and Latin America.

8. What percentage of your feed is taken by your own products? Why is this so? And what is the content?

As mentioned before, the positioning of TRACE Sport Stars has been largely characterised by our exclusive access to sport’s biggest names. With this in mind we produce a lot of content ourselves, involving traveling, partying, and celebrating with the stars. We also have a very beneficial partnership with Australian production company Inverliegh who supply about 100 hours of content per year. In total the content broadcast on our feeds is 60% production and 40% acquisition. For our music channels, to accompany the streams of popular urban music, we regularly bring in the artists for interviews. This means that about 10% of content on the music channels is produced by TRACE. Its important to be first and foremost music channels but also offer something different in our Guest Star interviews.

9. What do you plan to bet on for the second half of 2016? How do the expectations of your audience influence your choice?

In June this year, we will begin the international rollout of our SVOD platform TRACE Play. Entirely dedicated to Afro-urban entertainment, it will be filled with series, films, documentaries, and even our linear TV channels.

TRACE has always had a fairly young viewership, that being an audience consisting mostly of millenials. Research we did showed that 70% of our subscribers are watching our TV channels whilst using a second screen. For us, we felt an obligation to launch TRACE Play because the way in which our young fans are consuming content is increasingly digital.

10. What changes have occurred in the channel feed principles in the past few years in your country?

We have tried to localise our feeds when and where possible. You see this today with the multiple feeds across TRACE Urban, TRACE Sport Stars, and TRACE Gospel. The prograaming is also adapted to the market it serves with regular celebrity features that are popular in the feed’s region.

11. In your opinion, what content is lacking now, and would manufacturers benefit from producing it?

Content that successfully represent the culture of a niche audience. This is a gap we are bridging with TRACE Play for the Afro-urban audiences. Mainstream content is exactly that – mainstream. We have shown with our linear TV channels that serving a niche audience; serving them well, can give you the base for a successful multinational organisation.

I would recommend manufacturers, especially those from a minority background to consider developing into more niche areas, cultures that are underserved by the mainstream media. Stay true to your culture, stay true to your brand and you can create something great, just like we have with TRACE.

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