Tv Series: The Decline Of The American Empire.
After breaking audience records for nearly twenty years on French television, American series are struggling to attract viewers on the historic channels TF1 and M6. This slow decline, which TV channels had not necessarily anticipated, forces them to review their programming. Explanation.
A golden age now gone.
As the late Charles Aznavour sang, I'm talking about a time that those under 20 cannot know... In the 2000s, American TV series dominated French television and recorded record audiences.
It was impossible to turn on the TV without coming across a police drama like CSI (with multiple spin-offs from Manhattan to Miami!), Without a Trace on France 2 or NCIS: Special Investigations on M6.
In 2007, the investigations of the American forensic police in CSI brought together more than 11 million viewers on La Une! In 2010, American TV series still represented half of the top 100 audiences on French TV.
In 2011, 72 out of 100 audience records in France were US-made series, all broadcast on TF1.
An inexorable decline in the 2020s.
Today, the golden age of American TV series seems to be well and truly over... In 2022, no American-made fiction appears among the top 100 audiences on French TV.
Faced with this decline and the erosion of ratings, French channels have had to rethink their strategy. For example, M6 has reduced its slots dedicated to foreign fictions while retaining some surefire hits such as the NCIS series and its spin-offs.
On TF1 too, some American TV series are quickly liquidated due to disappointing scores. This is the case, for example, with the SWAT series whose season 5 was broadcast at a faster pace than expected.
The same goes for the medical series The Resident: if you have followed the adventures of the doctors at Chastain Clinic in Atlanta, you have probably noticed that the channel is airing season 5 right after the previous one, at a rate of three episodes per evening. TF1 seems determined to sell off its stock of episodes because season 4, broadcast from January 2023, did not attract more than 2.3 million viewers.
New viewing habits.
The continued decline of American series on traditional TV channels should not be interpreted as a rejection by viewers of this type of fiction. In fact, fans continue to follow their favorite series on streaming platforms.
It is not the made in USA fictions that have lost their attractiveness, but rather the habits of the public that have changed. The rise of streaming largely explains the decline in ratings. Since fans can find their favorite medical series such as Grey's Anatomy or The Resident on Disney+, they have gotten into the habit of skipping traditional TV.
To counter this erosion of audiences, television channels are now focusing on original French creations. In spring 2023, TF1 is betting on the fantasy genre and airing the series Prometheus in the hope of bringing young viewers back to television. We can only hope that these fictions will not also be cannibalized by streaming platforms.