Traditional Television in Quebec

The traditional TV programming launches are just around the corner, unveiling the fall 2024 schedules. This annual event plays a pivotal role in shaping the strategies and success of TV channels. These launches help maximize advertising revenue, garner agency feedback, strengthen the channel’s brand, and stand out in a highly competitive market. Traditional television in Quebec is a significant cultural vehicle that resonates deeply with the audience.

The first VAM (Television Audience Measurement) data from Numeris, which analyzes video viewing across linear TV, OTT services, and online platforms, highlights the prominence of traditional television in Quebecers’ viewing habits. In the first quarter of 2024, linear TV accounted for 79.2% of all video viewing by francophones in Quebec, compared to 20.8% for platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, and others.

Source: Numeris VAM Mo-Su 2a-2a, Share of TotTime(00), January, Febuary and March, A2+

Quebec francophones watch 9 hours more of traditional TV per week than other Canadians. This popularity is reflected in the advertising opportunities offered by local media, which can generate higher gross rating points (GRPs) in Quebec than elsewhere in Canada. For instance, 5 advertising spots in the series STAT on ICI Radio-Canada can generate 83 GRPs with a reach of 28%, compared to the same number of spots in Grey’s Anatomy, which generates 17 GRPs with a reach of 7% in English Canada.

Television has a deep and dynamic connection to Quebec’s popular culture, with several unique characteristics distinguishing it from the Canadian Anglo market. Let’s delve into some specific traits of the Quebec market:

Our Loyalty to Local Content

Quebecers are not just fond of television; they are passionate about their shows. When evaluated over all the Canadian provinces, eight of the top 10 Canadian TV shows with the highest viewership in fall 2023 were from Quebec. These include Chanteurs Masqués in first place, STAT in fourth, then Indéfendable, Révolution, En direct de l’Univers, Discussions avec mes parents, Infoman, and 5e rang in tenth place. Despite representing 23% of Canada’s population, Quebec’s contribution to top Canadian viewership is significant.

Source: Numeris, Conex TV PPM query builder, Top programs displayed based on conventional stations, Fall 2023, programs with 3+ airings

This local dedication also translates into less interest in pure-play platforms. According to the Media Technology Monitor (MTM) data reported by the CRTC, 67% of all Canadians subscribe to Netflix, compared to only 55% in Quebec. Moreover, the selection of Quebec TV shows on Netflix is still limited, with only a few series like Fugueuse, 19-2, and Hubert et Fanny available.

Our Unique Star System

Quebec’s star system is distinctly different from the rest of Canada. Our stars are homegrown. Forty-eight out of the 50 favorite TV shows of Quebec francophones are original local productions, while 46 of the top 50 shows in English Canada are American. Excluding the news and sports, English Canadian shows represent only 25% of viewing in the English-language market compared to 55% among francophone Canadians. Consequently, Quebec’s viewing is less fragmented; 75% of francophone Quebecers’ viewing is concentrated on 7 channels, compared to 22 channels for the same proportion in the rest of Canada.

Our Nostalgia

In Quebec, when we love something, it’s for the long haul. The enduring popularity of our shows is testament to this: En direct de l’Univers has been on air since 2009, Belle et Bum since 2003, Tout le monde en parle since 2004, Salut Bonjour since 1988, Infoman since 2000, and La Poule aux œufs d’or since 1993 (with the original airing from 1958 to 1966).

Even if shows are taken off the air, our attachment remains. Classic Quebec shows like La Fureur, Passe-Partout, Star Académie, and Un gars une fille have made comebacks. In the fall of 2023, 26 years after its last airing, La Petite Vie returned, drawing a 19.56% viewership rating. Last year, Les Boys’ 25th anniversary garnered a 16.69% rating.

There’s even a show dedicated to the nostalgia of key TV moments, allowing viewers to revisit the archives: Les Enfants de la Télé on ICI Radio-Canada. After all, it’s on our license plates:  Je me souviens (I remember).

Our Love for TV Dramas

The first major success of Canadian francophone television, La Famille Plouffe in 1953, ignited a lasting passion among Quebecers for TV soap operas. Shows like Le Survenant (138 episodes), Cap-aux-Sorciers (117 episodes), Les belles histoires des pays d’en haut (495 episodes), and L’Auberge du chien noir (376 episodes) have left an indelible mark, becoming a part of daily life for many years.

Today, the success of daily shows like STAT and Indéfendable defies traditional TV viewing trends. Never have so many Quebecers been glued to their screens at 7 p.m. each evening. STAT even managed to lower the average age of its viewers, with 70% of the audience being 45 years old or younger, according to ICI Radio-Canada.

New Year’s Eve Enthusiasm on Radio-Canada

The four most popular shows of the year occur on the same night. Last year, Bye Bye 2023, aired at 11 p.m., reached an average minute audience (AMA) of 4.569 million viewers, engaging more than half the population of Quebec live with a 59.22% viewership rating. By comparison, it is stronger than the 2024 Super Bowl. Indeed, despite breaking its record from 2015, it reached over 120 million Americans, for a 42% viewership rating. This makes the Super Bowl 30% less popular than Bye Bye in Quebec. Unsurprisingly, commercial spots sell out in less than 48 hours, more than 6 months in advance! Many non-Quebec advertisers, such as Audible, BMO, Tim Hortons, A&W, and Coca-Cola, have recognized this phenomenon. With its local content, television still has the power to bring people together and remains central in many Quebec households.

In second, third, and fourth place of last year’s most popular shows, we find La revue Infoman aired at 10 p.m., En direct du jour de l’an 2023 (En direct de l’Univers) aired at 7 p.m., and Les coulisses du Bye Bye 2023 aired at 12:17 a.m., with viewership ratings of 45.43%, 30.89%, and 25.61%, respectively.

Our take

At Dialekta, we prefer original content and high-quality productions. We attend these launches and have a keen sense of them, partly derived from our digital expertise but mainly because we, too, love our Quebec linear TV. We know that Quebec television offers an attractive return on investment for advertisers, thanks to its popularity among Quebecers, its impact, high attention levels, lasting advertising effect, prestige image, and wide coverage.