Exclusive: France TV & M6 fuel unscripted format surge, with key suppliers revealed

Nouvelle Ecole

France Télévisions and M6 have propelled the country’s unscripted format business to new heights over the past year, according to the latest research.

New launches of unscripted formats reached a peak of 50 in France last year, according to La Fabrique des Formats’ annual survey, an increase of 15 on 2021 and on former years when figures were in the 30-35 bracket.

The surge, which was highlighted by TBI in October, was largely due to increasing format activity at France Télévisions, as well as streamer developments and growing needs at M6.

France TV’s format surge

The figures highlight a reversal in fortunes for format sellers to France Télévisions, which five years ago was responsible for just five unscripted launches.

However, it has more recently opened itself up to formats and emerged as the most prolific launcher of new shows, equal to M6, with 16 each.

Drag Race France

France 2, which scheduled a stable 86 primetime entertainment strands, adapted international shows such as a MasterChef reboot and Flirty Dancing (neither of which have been renewed) as well as specials such as local remakes of BBC Studios’ duo, Michael McIntyre’s Big Show and The 1% Club.

The pubcaster’s digital platform France.TV also adapted Drag Race, but La Fabrique highlighted that it is not the only player becoming more active in this area, with broadcasters increasingly testing often smaller formats on digital platforms such as at 6Play. Netflix also launched talent show Nouvelle Ecole/Rhythm & Flow, with a second season debuting today.

M6, which has traditioanlly been a very active format player, tested more new shows last year including The Traitors. Its overall demand for unscripted also increased, rising by 29 ‘primetime entertainment evenings’ to a total of 164. The group is also looking to attract younger audiences via testing new formats for W9’s access primetime slots.

TF1’s primetime entertainment slots remained steady at 118, following the launch of a third weekly strand in 2021, while new launches were also stable at 10. These included the reboot of Star Academy, which was renewed.

Format origins & key suppliers

French formats represented more than half of the new shows (26), although few of these took primetime slots.

Group M6 was the most active in format creation, with 10 shows last year, including primetime quiz special Qui Peut Nous Battre on M6, and daily reality series, Les 50 on W9.

France Télévisions launched nine of its own formats, including France 2 access primetime autistic interviews Les Rencontres Du Papotin/The A Talk, which is being adapted in Poland.

Les Traitres

Gameshows such as comedy Les Frites for France 3’s regional stations also featured, while factual broadcaster RMC Découverte tried out four French factual formats last year. Group TF1 only tried two French creations.

Banijay, Satisfaction and Mediawan were responsible for 44% of new format launches in 2022, La Fabrique reported.

Banijay and it subsidiaries were also the leading primetime show producer for both TF1 and France 2 (respectively 29% and 40% of primetime entertainment airtime), and the fourth at M6 (11%).

The Marco Bassetti-led firm was also responsible for 75% of France 2’s access primetime episodes, 8% of TF1’s and 10% of M6’s. Satisfaction worked last year in primetime for all three big broadcasters, responsible for 12% of TF1 primetime shows, 6% of France 2’s and 3% of M6’s.

La Fabrique also highlighted that French subsidiaries of international companies had evolved, with Endemol and Sony Pictures Television France merged respectively into Banijay and Satisfaction. Nevertheless, The Voice prodco ITV Studios was TF1’s second supplier, while Warner Bros. produced 23% of France 2’s access primetime and 4% of primetime. BBC Studio’s came third on M6’s primetime supplier list, while Fremantle was second.

Broadcaster subsidiaries also continued to have a major role, highlighted by M6 and Fremantle’s close relationship, with both ultimately part of RTL Group.

Studio89 supplied 40% of M6 primetime shows and 68% of access primetime episodes, and TF1 Production 13% of TF1 primetime, as well as 92% of access primetime episodes. One French indie that is not part of a bigger group, Hervé Hubert, was named TF1’s fourth primetime supplier thanks to Masked Singer.

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