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High-End Drama Powers France to All-Time TV Export Record

The U.S. builds as an export market, Western Europe – U.K., Germany – remains strong, bar Spain

BIARRITZ. France – The U.S. is getting the French TV touch. Pre-sales on four flagship French fiction series –“Transporter: the Series,” “Panthers,” “Versailles” and ”Taxi Brooklyn” – to the U.S. or beyond helped power up Gallic TV exports to an all-time record last year of €210.3 million ($231.3 million).

A muscular 17.1% up on 2013, figure reps the fifth year of consecutive growth for French TV programs and is near 30% up on international French TV levels in pre-crisis years of 2005-08, TV France International and French agency CNC announced Tuesday at TVFI’s annual Biarritz Rendez-Vous. Drama pre-sales soared an extraordinary 449% year-on-year in 2014.

If any figures were needed to demonstrate that it is not only the U.S. that is benefitting from a fiction feeding frenzy, Tuesday’s Gallic stats announcement was conclusive.

“There’s been a crisis but exports have really picked up,” said Mathieu Bejot, TVFI head.

Beyond the U.S , the U.K. – galvanized by sales of “Panthers,” a Warp Films/Haut et Court production, “Versailles,” produced by Capa Drama and an iconic Canal Plus Original Series – and Germany – where Profilages played well on ProSiebenSat – were key export markets for drama in Western Europe.

Animation remains France’s prime export fare, with overseas revenues dipping 3.9% to €45 million ($49.5 million) but that sales figure was still the second highest in the last 10 years, with 2013 hitting an all-time high. Fiction passed documentary as France’s second-biggest export type for the first time in at least 15 years.

“What’s striking is the diversity of programs being exported and diversity of clients, as well as diversity of territories. said Benoit Danard, CNC head of research, statistics and perspectives.

France would like to extend its audiovisual – including TV, not just film – co-production pacts, currently in place with just Canada and Australia. It is also revising selective incentive support for exports, said Christophe Tardieu, CNC director general. The new aid system would favor viral marketing. France’s CNC export fund – covering marketing expenses, for instance – will be doubled to €3.4 million ($4.4 million) in 2016, and more money made available for subtitling and dubbing, he added.

Per Tardieu, CNC is also studying automatic funding for shows that air successfully abroad. That measure needs E.U. clearance and would not kick in next year.

But France is on a international TV revenues roll. The next question fpr drama is whether free-to-air Gallic TV dramas can join cable fare from Canal Plus as an export driver.

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