Audiovisual production in France and TV shows export

by Emilio Pucci | 04.02.2021

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A recent study by CSA (Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel) – the French audiovisual market regulatory authority – provided a detailed picture of the television production sector in France. The data shown in the report (“Étude sur le tissu économique du secteur de la production audiovisuelle”) are unfortunately updated to 2017-2018 but clearly describe a growing sector, both in terms of the number of active companies and in terms of turnover.

The total number of television production companies formally registered with code 5911A (the equivalent to our counterpart Ateco code), stood at 4,541 at the end of 2018. The value records a significant increase compared to year 2000 (1,398 companies) and to 2010 (3,218 companies). Overall, the turnover of this precise sector grossed € 3.1 billion in 2017 with a compound annual growth rate of 3% between 2010 and 2017. As reported in the income statements, it should be noted that this value includes all revenues, and therefore also those deriving from activities of other segments within the audiovisual supply chain (technical services, distribution, etc.), not directly related to the main activity carried out by these companies.

Again in 2017, the top 50 companies (size-wise) totaled nearly 40% of the volume of business, while the first 200 about 70%.

The expenditure of French networks for original works and on the basis of the regulatory obligations to which they are subject was equal to € 855 million in 2018 on a total programming expenditure (all genres and formats produced and acquired in stock and flow) estimated at € 5.4 billion. Just under half of the original production expenditure (€ 405 million) originated from the public broadcasting company France Télévisions. The remainder was divided among all commercial operators of free and pay-TV (TF1, M6, Canal plus).

Also in 2018, television production received a good € 291 million from CNC (Center national du cinéma et de l’image animée), split between “selective” and “automatic” funds. CNC itself provided € 311 million to the film industry in the same year to reach a support expenditure for the entire audiovisual sector which stood at around € 700 million (film + TV and other digital areas, such as video games, etc.). CNC contributions for television production must then be added to the resources of the territorial agencies which in 2019 covered € 35 million for television production alone.

As for the investments of SVoD operators (Netflix and Amazon in the lead), CSA does not provide data, but these are provided by CNC for 2019, reporting an SVoD expenditure of € 53 million (€ 52 million invested by Netflix and just one by Amazon).

Overall, considering all investments and public and private contributions, in 2018 the original French production that benefitted from support policies (“production audiovisuelle aidée”) for the total genres of fiction, animation, documentaries, television adaptations of theatrical and musical works, and programs of cultural interest, was worth approximately € 1.55 billion, while in 2019, € 1.6 billion, that is, 30% of the total programming expenditure of the top 4 television groups.

The French product generates a foreign market value that has grown significantly over the past ten years. Cross-border sales and pre-emptions were worth € 136 million in 2010 and € 247 million in 2019. And a contribution from international co-productions must be added to these figures: € 63 million in 2010 and € 78 million in 2019.

Finally, particularly significant is the revenue produced on foreign markets per genre: animation products alone generated 77.4 million in 2019, that is, 40% of the total sales; fiction and documentaries, respectively 24% and 22%. The results of the animation genre on foreign markets underline its constant growth since 2010, when foreign sales were worth only 35 million, meaning 33% of the total. North America and Europe are the geographical areas of greatest export of the French product, but Asia is growing strongly, as well. In 2019, the sales of global rights on SVoD platforms generated € 42 million.

International export revenues of French audiovisual products (data in € millions and %)

Source: eMedia based on CNC data