Rendez-Vous 2019: French TV sales tripled in 25 years

The 25th edition of the Rendez-Vous is taking place in Biarritz, France, from 8 to 12 September, and is the opportunity for the Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée (CNC) and TV France International to look back on a quarter-century of conquering the international marketplace, and to present the annual study of program exports.

In 2018, the amount of foreign receipts from French TV programs, including international presales and foreign input to coproductions, totaled nearly €276m. Total sales alone accounted for €173m. ‘In an international marketplace with growing competition, the export of French TV programs reached its third highest total in the past 25 years. It is key to continue supporting quality coproductions to conquer new territories. In parallel, the development of the creativity of French works must remain a core ambition’, said Dominique Boutonnat, President of the CNC.

‘In a complex environment, we are at a consolidation stage in terms of foreign sales. The talent of French sales companies will be fundamental to allow our content to continue making inroads into new territories throughout the world – a process that began 25 years ago, and which has ensured steady growth in our market share’, added Hervé Michel, President of TV France International.

Animation and fiction driving foreign sales, with the first being the leading genre in foreign markets. It accounts for nearly 40% of all programming exports, totaling €69m in sales in 2018. This  uccess is largely due to the world- renowned quality of training in this sector and the vitality of the industrial and creative aspects of French animation, which has a long track record of international cooperation on both financing and creativity. Animation has succeeded in conquering new territories, notably China (nearly €5m in acquisitions in 2018 along with Hong Kong and Taiwan), which became the third-biggest export territory in 2017.

USA remained the leading export market for French animation, just ahead of Germany. Series like Oggy et les cafards (which has sold worldwide for the past 20 years), Totally Spies (another global seller), and more recently Lapins crétins invasion (sold in China, Japan, and to Netflix worldwide), Mon Chevalier et moi (USA, China, Scandinavia, Middle East, Africa), Paf le chien (Latin America, Asia-Pacific, Europe, United States), and Molang (UUSA, Latin America, Southeast Asia, Japan, Europe, Middle East) have all contributed to the genre’s success on the international stage. French fiction held up well with almost €50m in sales, with series like Philharmonia (Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Russia) and Maroni (USA, UK, Germany) illustrating the capacity of French producers for renewal and diversification.

Tried-and-trusted French fictions demonstrated their lasting appeal: The new season of Engrenages, emblematic of the resurgence of French series in the 2010s, is now sold to more than 100 territories and has just been acquired for the United States, and Candice Renoir, which has aired in 80 territories since its launch in 2013, was bought again for Spain in 2018. Baron Noir was sold to Scandinavia and Spain last year, while Guyane was sold in Latin America, Spain, and central and eastern Europe. Sales of documentaries have shown great stability, remaining above the €30m threshold every year since 2013. Apocalypse, Homo Sapiens, 700 requins, and Regarde le monde are just some examples of French know-how in the sector.

VOD, a key vector of growth VOD platforms have become essential outlets for foreign sales of French programming, notably animation. In that sector in particular, sales to platforms can account for up to one third of the annual foreign revenue for certain companies. Another observation is that international platforms are now proposing a growing number of French properties, especially for kids’ animation and crime series like Baron noir, acquired by Amazon UK, HBO Go Scandinavia and Spain, and Ivi in Russia.

In recent years, reforms to the support system for production implemented by the CNC have encouraged the export of French programs, notably by fostering creativity. Emphasis was also put on supporting coproductions (bilateral Franco-Italian fund, Franco- German subsidy fund, coproduction agreement with Brazil, subsidy for young French-language creation in sub-Saharan Africa, etc.). For the past 25 years, TV France International has strived to support and promote sales of French TV programming in the international marketplace, with the backing of the CNC.