French scripted deals fuel record $231m int’l sales, as streamer deals power growth

Le Bureau Des Legendes (aka The Bureau)

French programming enjoyed strong sales last year driven by scripted although pre-sales and international coproductions were down, according to the annual Unifrance-CNC French export figures, revealed at Rendez-vous in Biarritz yesterday.

Sales generated revenues that were up 15.4% to €214.8m ($231m) – their highest level ever – thanks to a peak year for French drama, which was up by 40.9% to €80.7m.

CNC director of studies, Cécile Lacoué, said a number of big scripted deals with global platforms had helped boost the figures.

These included Vortex and Women At War, which both sold to Netflix, young adult series About Sasha, which was picked up by Disney+ in many territories, and the sale of The Bureau to Paramount with a remake straight-to-series order from Showtime.

Marie-Antoinette and ongoing procedurals such as HIP, Deadly Topics and Bright Minds also enjoyed strong sales.

Drama took over as the leading export genre from France’s usual champion, animation, last year, with the latter down 5.3% to €57.6m, with fewer global platform deals recorded.

Documentaries, which were the most affected by Covid delivery delays, continued their recovery, up 32.1% to €48.6m.

AVOD acceleration

Worldwide and multi-territory sales were up 40.7% to €57.9m, with 71.5% of that total being VOD rights, mostly SVoD, but AVOD is making up a growing share, with 21% of worldwide sales last year, up from 18.3%.

Sales to platforms grew their share in total sales, making up 43% of all business, with linear channels amounting to 49%.

Western Europe remained French fare’s prime buyer as a region, with €87.3m of sales (8.4% up), although the US was the leading buyer as an individual country, generating €19.2m of sales, largely bewcause of exceptional deals such as the HIP remake for ABC.

As for pre-sales, after a peak in 2021, they were 50.3% down in 2022, to €50.5m, with drama and animation respectively experiencing 57% and 56% drops, although documentaries were slightly up.

The same trend applied to international coproductions, which were down 38.4% to €54.4m, with fewer big budget international series produced last year, and a slower year in terms of animation production which works in cycles, therefore affecting international funding too.

Documentary was the only genre avoiding the downward pre-funding trend, with international copros in the genre rising 2.5%.

With sales and pre-funding put together, French export figures overall were 15% down to €319.6m. However, there was surge in international productions being shot in France, said Lacoué.

Foreign spending in France amounted to €442.1m last year, up from to €302m in 2021 and €131m in 2019.

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