The export of French audiovisual products

by Emilio Pucci / eMedia | 09.02.2022

Share on Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn

Author: Emilio Pucci / eMedia

In 2020, the French audiovisual sector generated €600 million on foreign markets. This is the aggregate value (Total flux export) of the sale and pre-sales of film rights, television programs, or formats, and the contribution of foreign players in low or high budget co-productions. A further €245 million poured onto the French film-video-television industry from foreign producers for made-in-France works produced under the international tax credit (C2I: Crédit d’impôt international). In other words, executive productions.

Taking into account the​ data of sales and pre-sales of rights and the foreign financing of co-productions, 2020 has recorded a decrease (-14%) in the aggregate value which can be imputed to the foreign distribution of French titles that was worth €700 million in 2019. This decrease is due to the Covid-19 pandemic that impacted the film production and distribution sectors, while the foreign distribution of television programs hasn’t registered a standstill in terms of economic value.

The data come from a series of CNC (Center national du cinéma et de l’image animée) findings published at the end of 2021, which offer a detailed reconstruction of foreign flows drawn by the French audiovisual industry. Although detailed, the CNC research does not clarify how global platform investments (Netflix, Amazon, etc.) in French products – which are then distributed virtually worldwide – are calculated in regard to the foreign investment attraction.

Theatrical and video-television productions feature different trends with regard to foreign circulation and its attracted economic value.

In France, theatrical films attract substantial foreign resources (always in reference to the aggregate value of sales of rights and the expenditure on low or high-budget co-productions). Overall, however, foreign resources reveal a significant decrease. The €376 million value in 2019 dropped to €246 million in 2020 (-34%). This fall in the attraction of foreign markets for French films was caused by the first waves of the Covid-19 pandemic (2020), but the negative trend seems to be long term, having halved in ten years both in terms of sales of rights and co-productions. These were worth €483 million in 2011, drastically slashing to €246 million in 2020. Also the overall investment in theatrical film production has progressively decreased, passing from €1,388 million in 2011 to €1,117 million in 2019 and then to the negative peak of €784 million in 2020.

The graph below shows the entire chronological account of investments in theatrical film productions (as mentioned above, inclusive of foreign contributions in co-productions) and of foreign attracted resources (also inclusive of foreign investments in co-productions).

France – Investments in theatrical film production and resources attracted by their circulation on foreign markets (€ million and units)

Note that the number of titles produced yearly hasn’t decreased between 2011 and 2019 and has actually increased. It can also be noted that, on average, in 2011 each title produced attracted €2 million of foreign resources (in co-productions and sales of rights) while in 2019 and 2020 this value declined to €1.2 and €1 million, respectively. Excluding the value of the co-productions and considering only the sales of rights on foreign markets, on average each French film generated € 0.6 million in 2011 but only €0.4 in 2019 and 2020.

The total export value of French television programs reached €355 million in 2020, recording an increase of 9% over the previous year. In ten years, starting from 2011, the total value of foreign resources attracted by French productions has grown by 54%, going from €231 million to €355 million in 2020. As mentioned, the value is calculated by combining the relevant sales of rights data with the resources invested by foreign players in co-productions and pre-sales.

As expressed by the graph below, in the same decade, productions (this graph reports only the investments related to programs supported by CNC) have grown in terms of budget and hour volume, with a drop alone in 2020. Foreign valorization has also grown as a whole and in its three basic components.

France – Investments in television production and resources attracted by their circulation on foreign markets (€ million and hour volume

With a total investment of €824 million in 2020, French fiction has “generated” an aggregate value of €105 million on (or from) foreign markets. This is followed by animation that attracts investments in domestic productions for €245 million but on foreign markets “makes” even more than fiction, having achieved an aggregate value of €145 million in 2020. Finally, documentaries attract investments in domestic productions for €350 million and generate a turnover of € 74 million abroad.