International Spend On French TV Rockets To Record €678M As Tax Rebate Reaps Rewards, Says Unifrance Report

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International spending on French TV rocketed by 38.8% last year to €678M, with a huge increase in studios taking advantage of the nation’s tax rebate, according to Unifrance’s annual French TV Export report delivered at the body’s Biarritz Rendez-Vous this afternoon.

Investment in projects that used the Tax Rebate for International Production (TRIP) more-than doubled to €302.7M (the euro and dollar are virtually equal at present), while sales and pre-financing of French shows rose by 6% to €375.9M. In years gone by, this latter figure has tended to be far higher than the TRIP number.

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The record figures were reflective of a year in which things started returning to normal following the damage inflicted by the Covid pandemic, while demonstrating a French TV creative community in rude health.

Foreign pre-sales in French content crossed the €100M mark for the first time, another record, while pre-sales of drama rose sharply to €45.5M and foreign contribution to co-productions hit its highest number for two decades.

The likes of TF1/RTS 1’s High Intellectual Potential and Canal+’s Paris Police 1900 were flagged as success stories.

“The figures show French production is attractive for all genres and we can be proud of it,” said Emmanuelle Jouanole, the President of SEDPA, France’s union of TV distribution companies.

Delivering the figures in a press conference in the past hour, Jouanole said they are testament to major changes in buyer activity, with more streamers taking worldwide rights to shows.

“These platforms really do breath life into this market,” she added. “Moving rights worldwide has big international scope and tends to have a strong impact on distribution. We are working more and more upstream, which is good for producers and good for distributors.”

And the major U.S. studios’ move to bring content back to their own platforms gifted a further opportunity for French distributors to sell French shows abroad, according to Unifrance Director of Audiovisual Sarah Hemar. “Buyers are seeing that what works well in France, works abroad,” she added.

Around 1.5% of shows in the streamer’s back catalogues were French in 2021, according to the report.

Pure sales of French TV shows fell slightly from the prior year to €186.1M and this was mostly put down to a worrying decline in documentary sales, which fell by 20% to €36.8M, a drop Unifrance blamed on “exports hit particularly hard by delivery delays due to the pandemic and bottlenecks in post-production.”

“Some productions couldn’t be shot for two years,” said Jouanelle. “If you don’t have fresh documentaries this can only marginally be offset by sales of older shows. But I am confident things will improve.”

After five years at high levels, animation exports were also down by 18.5% to €60.8m.

Geographically, North America was France’s second biggest market with €23.3M Euros spent, still a way behind Western and Central Europe with €80.6M.

Hemar also pointed to subtle changes such as an increase in spend in the Middle East by 13% and Chinese spend being at its lowest level for six years.

“We’ve not been in active in China for three years,” she added. “The situation with their climate doesn’t look good for the future.”

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