French TV exports hit record high of $373m, as tax rebate fuels surging int’l investment

Paris Police 1900

French TV exports hit a record €375.9m ($373m) in 2021, while improvements to the country’s Tax Rebate for International Production (TRIP) saw investment from outside of the country more than double on 2020’s figure.

International spending on French audiovisual programmes – namely sales, pre-sales and investment in coproduction – were up 6% on 2020, according to figures from the National Centre for Cinema and the Moving Image (CNC) and Unifrance.

Spending on international TV projects in France, meanwhile, soared to €302.7m, up from €134.3m in 2020 and €97.9 in 2018. TRIP was given a boost in April 2020, when the French government increased the rebate to 40% on eligible expenses.

Sales down, investment up

The organisations’ annual report, revealed at the 28th edition of the Unifrance Rendez-vous in Biarritz which is taking place this week, showed that while sales had dipped more than 5% in 2021, pre-sales had soared more than 30% to hit €101.5m.

Pre-sale spending was helped by drama deals touching €45.5m – more than double the 2020 figure – although animation pre-sales declined more than 7%. Animation remains the leading genre for pre-sales at €47m, while doc deals were up 12% to €8.8m.

International coproduction spending rose 10.2% to reach €88.4m, the highest since 2003’s figure of €111.5m, but straight sales were down 5.5% year-on-year to €186.1m.

The decline was led by animation programming, which was down a noticeable 18.5% to €60.8m, although Unifrance attributed this to the “cyclical nature of animation” and said it would likely be a “short-term trend”.

Dramas such as StudioCanal’s Paris Police 1900 – which has sold to Sky Germany and SBS in Australia – and the Alliance’s La Jeune Fille et la Nuit were among shows highlighted by the report, with scripted sales rising almost 22% to €57.3m.

Sales of docs were down 20.1% to €36.8m, largely because of pandemic-induced delivery delays that hampered post-production and caused shoots to be postponed.

Geographical developments

The location of buyers has changed little, the report added, with Western Europe still the biggest purchasing region for programmes and accounting for sales of €80.6m, down 7.4%. That figure represents 43.3% of global earnings, the lowest share to date, while North America brought shows worth €23.3m, down 7.8%, followed by Asia/Oceania (€14.7m, down 10.9%) and Central and Eastern Europe (€11.8m). Sales of worldwide rights stood at €41.1m (22.1% of total exports).

The report added that Germany and Austria remain the top market for French programming, spending €15.9, followed by the UK (€14.1m), Italy (€12.1m) and the US (€12.1m).

It also shone some light on the trend for global rights deals from streamers, which remained steady at €41.1m, down from €41.2m in 2020 and €42.3m in 2019.

However, it was ad-supported global deals which drove that overall number, with AVOD accounting for 18.3% of worldwide rights sales in 2021, compared with 12.0% in 2020. French programming made up 1.5% of shows on SVOD services around the world (excluding France) with 900 shows available.

Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ offer just over 3% of French programmes, while that number drops to 2.3% for Netflix, the report added.

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