About crime dramas on French TV

Browsing TV listings automatically

In a recent talk at Service National de Police Scientifique, someone suggested to me that young adults might not be familiar with the type of TV shows (CSI, Law and order, etc.) we’re working on in the VoCSI-Telly project.

I was quite confident that such series were still widely available on French TV.

Of course, TV viewing habits vary from one generation to the next. But if we assume that some of the young adults in question still exhibit the kind of ’lazy’ channel-surfing behaviour that is typical of my generation, they will, I thought, sooner or later come across one of these series.

I was lucky enough to find a website that stores old TV listings (from Jan., 1st 2020 onwards). And I wrote a short program that produced the following figure. It’s still very coarse, but it shows that, for example, if you look at the tallest bar, New York unité spéciale (Law and Order: Special Victims Unit) appeared at least once about 450 times (out of the 790 prime time slots since Jan., 1st 2020).

tv program

In fact, sometimes as many as 5 episodes of this version of Law and Order have been shown in a row. If you add up the hits from the 22 series shown in the figure, you get 2,500. Therefore, although my short program needs refining, all the evidence points to the ubiquity of English-speaking crime shows on French TV. Whether the ‘young adults’ in question still watch TV the way older adults do is, of course, a totally different question. Here’s the Matlab program, by the way:

tic %takes about 45 secs to run
dt = datetime(20200101, 'ConvertFrom', 'yyyymmdd');
dateVec = dt:1:date;
resultats = cell(length(dateVec), 28);
compteur = 1;
for idx = dateVec
    currentDate = datestr(idx, 'yyyy-mm-dd');
    myProg = webread(['https://programme-tv.nouvelobs.com/programme-tv/' currentDate '/']);
    nomSeries = {'Blacklist', 'Blue Bloods', 'Castle', 'Chicago Police Department',...
        'Cold Case : Affaires classées', 'Columbo', 'Elementary', 'Esprits criminels',...
        'FBI : Portés disparus', 'Hawaii 5-0', 'Hawaï police d''Etat', 'Le Prisonnier<',...
        'Les Experts<', 'Les Experts : Manhattan', 'Les Experts : Miami', 'Lie to Me',...
        'Major Crimes', 'NCIS<', 'NCIS : Los Angeles', 'New York, police judiciaire',...
        'New York, section criminelle', 'New York, unité spéciale', 'Numb3rs', 'Person of Interest',...
        'Rizzoli and Isles', 'Sur écoute<', 'The Closer : L.A. enquêtes prioritaires',...
        'X-Files : Aux frontières du réel'};
resultats(compteur, :) = regexpi(myProg, nomSeries);
compteur = compteur + 1;
nonVides = cellfun(@(x) ~isempty(x), resultats);
totalSeries = sum(nonVides,1);
newTab = table(nomSeries(logical(totalSeries))', totalSeries(logical(totalSeries))');
newTab.Properties.VariableNames = {'series', 'nombre_match'};
newTab.series = replace(newTab.series, '<', '');
set(gca, 'XTickLabel', newTab.series, 'XTick', 1:length(newTab.series))
title(['Nombre de soirs où au moins 1 épisode a été diffusé depuis ' datestr(dateVec(1))], 'FontName', 'Garamond',...
set(gca, 'FontName', 'Garamond', 'FontSize', 18)
Emmanuel Ferragne
Emmanuel Ferragne
Professor of Phonetics