TV5MONDE app brings French-language television to Asia
Stream opens a French window
With the ongoing fracas over TV licensing - and poorly produced local terrestrial television programmes - some have started searching for fresh content from overseas entertainment providers.
One option is the new online app launched by the global French-language channel TV5MONDE, which is offering live streaming programming, some of which is free of charge.
The app operates on what the industry refers to as a "freemium model", meaning that the most basic service is free, but viewers must buy a subscription to access premium content.
In the case of TV5MONDE, this means non-paying customers can watch all they want, but only on a small screen, about the size of a smartphone.
If they want to enjoy the channel full-screen on their computer, iPad, or hooked up to a television screen, they will have to pay for a subscription.
Paying subscribers will also receive access to more content. Without a subscription, the online channel operates like the television channel, but with a subscription, viewers get access to the TV5MONDE library from all of their on-demand channels.
The content is drawn from a diverse selection of French and French-language television channels, and comes with subtitles in French, English, Japanese, and Korean.
There are plans for Chinese and Bahasa subtitles, according to the channel.
TV5MONDE rolled out the service last month in the Asia-Pacific region. If it is successful, there is talk they will expand the scheme to cover the channel's other major markets in Europe, francophone Africa, and the Arab world.
Channel chief executive Yves Bigot says the new online platform in the Asian market is not a response to a growing population of French expatriates in the city. Although he says the company is aware of the growing power of the French community in Asia, the population is still too small to sustain the channel.
Instead, the biggest audience for TV5MONDE comes from non-French-speaking houses who "love French arts and culture" and who see watching French television as having a kind of cache, the television version of eating in a French restaurant, he says.
TV executives in Paris have reason to be hopeful. When the service was first tested in the Japanese market it proved a great success, and has an average of 1,000 daily prime-time viewers today.
TV5MONDE was first launched as TV5 in France in 1984. It was rebranded in 2006 to reflect its global reach.
The recently launched streaming service in this region consists of a free app that can be downloaded at asia.tv5monde.com