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Touche Pas à Mon Poste, the most connected program on French TV

D8’s flagship program, hosted by Cyril Hanouna, has not only been a hit on the air but also on Facebook and Twitter. At the peak of social TV, “Touche Pas à Mon Poste” (TPMP) is the first show to play the multi-screen and interactive game.

Eighteen months after having been released by D8, TPMP continues to be a hit: Cyril Hanouna was voted best presenter of 2013 and audiences for this program regularly sit at 1 million viewers (with a record of 1.23 million viewers last night). A remarkable performance for a DTT program, let alone within a time frame as competitive as 18.30 – 20.30.

However, the real success of TPMP is perhaps not where we think it is. Beyond the TV component itself, Cyril Hanouna’s talk show has built its reputation on social networks. The figures speak for themselves: today TPMP has almost 1 millions friends on Facebook and nearly 350,000 followers on Twitter. To help put this into perspective, the other most watched program in the early evening, “Le Grand Journal”, counts 790,000 friends on Facebook and 140,000 followers on Twitter.

The establishment of a digital ecosystem

This situation is anything but an accident. In May 2012, the transfer of TPMP from France 4 to D8 was a time to (re)think the program in a more digital, more interactive setting with more participation and an ambition: Make TPMP the most connected program of PAF (Paysage Audiovisuel Français/French Broadcasting Scene). As was said in an article by Presse Citron on this subject, “Networks are in the DNA of TPMP, and have been since its broadcasting on France 4. But since its arrival at D8, this is truer than ever where it is live daily and a weekly almost live pre-recording.”

It all started when Cyril Hanouna opened his Twitter account in July 2012. However, the host’s social network involvement was not obvious at the beginning. Thomas Plessis, who advised Cyril Hanouna on his digital strategy, recognises himself. “Cyril is not a digital-expert, but he loves talking to people.” An interesting piece of information confirmed by Hanouna: “Before, I had no idea about Twitter.” Today, Cyril Hanouna has near 600,000 followers. An official TPMP Twitter account was created at the same time as the first broadcast on D8 in September 2012.

At the same time, the new team has made the TPMP Facebook page, dating back to the France 4 era, much more dynamic and appealing. “It is the first program that has more fans on Facebook than viewers at the beginning,” assured Cyril Hanouna.

In other words, the idea is to create a complete digital ecosystem straight away, where the different networks and different screens can blend together. TPMP has well understood that the viewers (starting with their target audience, the 15-34 year olds) are no longer happy to just passively watch a program without a commentary on Twitter and/or Facebook with the help of their second screens (tablets or smartphones).

Between 18.30 and 20.30, the viewer/internet surfer is an integral part of the show. On the TPMP Twitter account, the community manager is in charge of live tweeting to encourage reactions from those watching the program (Cyril Hanouna: “Twitter allows us to have the live opinion of our viewers, it is a real plus-value in the show”) and allows those who are not in front of their screens to follow it via social networks (Thomas Plessis: “A program needs to be able to be followed even when you’re not watching TV”).

The most famous sequence in the program, “Je zappe/ Je mate”, is a summary of this constant come and go between TV and internet. The principle is simple: each commentator explains why he/she likes or dislikes a program, Cyril Hanouna asks the audience to vote on Facebook or Twitter and the results are revealed live by the presenter.

With a strong presence on social networks, it is obvious that a live and instant connection guarantees an authenticity of which the viewers are very fond. As Franck Appietto, the entertainment programs director for D8, summarizes, “The majority of the programs on D8 are live. It is the trademark this channel. TPMP is two hours of a live media show every day from Monday to Friday, with an incredible entertainer whose reactions could at any moment dismantle the structure of the show!” However, it would be wrong to assume that live TV is all about improvisation: “the sequences are worked on thoroughly beforehand,” says Franck Appietto.

The objective: make the program live beyond its live broadcast

The editorial logic behind social networks goes even further: regular dates are fixed on Twitter and Facebook to make the program live past its live broadcast and create a sort of program continuum from one episode to the next while winning the loyalty of the public. The audience ratings and the best videos of the day before are posted in the mornings; backstage images and announcements (coming next, summary...) of the next program are unveiled in the afternoon. Not forgetting the questions which are asked by internet surfers all day long.

The strong digital anchorage of TPMP guarantees the notoriety of the program as much as it protects it from bad press. On social networks which are ready to flame the smallest spark, social interaction is a valuable fire-guard. In this way, it is managed in a transparent fashion, the recent debate on Gérard Louvin (a commentator of the show, who had an altercation with an assistant-producer) was quickly neutralised on Twitter (“@GLouvin will explain himself on TPMP”) and on Cyril Hanouna’s account (“Gérard Louvin will explain on the program and tell us exactly what happened.”)

Beyond this relatively exceptional case, the transparency between TPMP and its fans is undeniable. On Twitter, for example, the official account of the program often retweets unfavourable messages, criticisms, protests from some tweeters. What program on the French broadcasting scene can take pride in the fact that they have pushed the boundaries of social experience for viewers to the limits?   

At a time when all TV channels want to better link their programs with social media, TPMP has clearly taken a step ahead. As Thomas Plessis said, “social networks can bring a TV audience if there is a promise at the end. Broadcasting Tweets to the TV is useless. People are in demand from the moment the content is good”.

A hooked up and connected program... What else can TPMP do to go further in the digital world? Cyril Hanouna already has ideas on the subject: “make it so people can say and choose directly what they want see on TV, while it’s happening.” A promise for 2014?

Frédéric Vallois
At Stakes

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