You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Biarritz Event Showcases Strong French TV Program Exports

Despite challenges from regulations and tech players like Netflix, France continues to sell more television programs to the world

France’s biggest annual TV confab is getting bigger.

A record 68 exhibitors will attend Biarritz’s 21st Le Rendez-Vous, organized by program export org TV France Intl. The event will encompass 1,178 shows, of which 27% fiction, 15% animation and 58% docs.

A total of 72 counties and 272 buyers have registered, representing Europe’s main pubcasters and key international players, including RTL, Sky Italia, Sony Germany, Turner and Globosat.

Increasingly buffeted by competition from operators such as Netflix, French broadcasters are looking to invest in innovative programming in order to power domestic ratings and unlock international sales. A poster child for this effort is zombie thriller “The Returned,” whose second season screens at Biarritz.

“Series like ‘The Returned’ and procedural drama ‘The Witnesses’ — both of which aired during primetime on U.K.’s Channel 4 — have opened up new avenues,” says TVFI’s exec director Mathieu Bejot. “There’s now a growing tendency for more diverse genres, such as fantasy and futuristic shows.”

Zodiak Rights sold season one of “The Returned” to 113 territories. Caroline Torrance, the company’s head of international scripted, says deals have been inked in many territories for season two.

The Biarritz Rendez-Vous includes two themed dinners — one for futuristic thriller “Trepalium,” the other for culinary travel show “Taste Hunters.” Also in the program are special screenings of marine wildlife series “+/- 5 meters” and season three of priest drama “The Churchmen.”

English-language shows will also be highlighted, in particular the €27 million ($30 million) historical drama “Versailles” (pictured above), a Canal Plus original series penned by Simon Mirren (“Without a Trace”) and David Wolstencroft (“Spooks”), repped by Zodiak Rights, with sales announced to Spain’s Movistar TV and Germany’s SquareOne Entertainment.

“English-language shows like ‘Versailles’ have had a big impact on French production,” Bejot adds. “They help put us on the map.”

French authorities have recently attempted to boost TV content investment, currently dampened by a stagnant ad market.

Jean-Baptiste Sergeant, an analyst at MainFirst, estimates that TF1’s ad revenues will be flat in 2015 and M6’s revenues will only rise by 0.8%. This led the channels to increase programming costs by only 0.7% and 1.6% respectively.

In order to encourage more spending, a law enacted in April allows broadcasters to hold producer rights and thereby build program libraries.

TF1 Intl. — the sales arm of France’s leading commercial network, responsible for franchises such as Luc Besson’s “No Limit” and French procedural “Profiliage” — is repping 13 drama series at Le Rendez-Vous, including talent agent comedy “Call My Agent” and crime thriller “No Second Chance.”

Francois Godard of Enders Analysis says further legislative changes are required. “France’s strict regulatory regime is like the Maginot Line,” he says. “We’ve seen what happens in other markets where operators such as Sky start developing innovative content, like Italian drama series ‘Gomorrah.’ French broadcasters need more edgy dynamic series, but they’re hampered by regulatory constraints.”

Sergeant concurs: “Private broadcasters TF1 and M6 have a lot of cash, but they’re very wary of investing in expensive programming and cannot acquire production companies for regulatory reasons.”

Notwithstanding such restrictions, France is now viewed as an increasingly fertile ground for innovative narratives and new talent, with high-profile French-language series being developed early on with U.S. or U.K. partners.

“We’re seeing tremendous talent coming from France at the moment,” Torrance says. “Directors, actors and producers are increasingly crossing borders between film and television, with eyes on international.”

Animation is another strong suit. New shows include Gaumont Animation’s “Calimero,” commissioned by TF1 and Disney Junior.

Overall, French TV exports have been rising over recent years, including an 8% hike in 2013, to $150 million. Homegrown fiction rose by 14.1%. Bejot says the trend continued in 2014; full stats will be disclosed during the event.

More TV

  • Live+7 Ratings for Week of Oct.

    Live+7 Ratings for Week of Oct. 7: 'This Is Us' Overtakes 'Masked Singer'

    “This Is Us” and “The Masked Singer” continue to dual it out at the top of the delayed viewing ratings chart, with the NBC drama narrowly overtaking the Fox singing show after seven days of delayed viewing for week 3. “This Is Us” was the biggest grower of the week, adding a 1.5 rating to [...]

  • Gary Newman

    Fox TV Group Alum Gary Newman Joins Attention Capital as Executive Partner

    Former Fox TV Group chairman Gary Newman has joined Attention Capital, the startup venture launched earlier this year by another Fox alumnus, Joe Marchese. Newman and another media biz veteran, Lisa Gersh, were named Tuesday as executive partners of Attention Capital. Newman will focus on acquisition and investment opportunities. Marchese, who previously headed advertising sales [...]

  • Matt Lauer Kurt Sutter

    From Sutter to Lauer, Hollywood Sees a Flurry of Letters From the Edge (Column)

    Let’s talk about the whacked-out letters that hit the media sphere in the past eight days. One was that bizarre mea culpa dropped Oct. 17 by the no-holds-barred showrunner Kurt Sutter in response to getting canned from his series “Mayans MC.” No stranger to complaints of unprofessional behavior on his sets over the years, Sutter [...]

  • Lisa Ling attends the 2018 Baby2Baby

    Lisa Ling Inks Overall Deal at HBO Max, Sets Dan Rather-Inspired Docuseries

    Lisa Ling, the former “View” co-host who currently emcees “This Is Life with Lisa Ling” on CNN, has inked an overall deal with forthcoming streaming service HBO Max. As part of the deal, which marks an expansion of Ling’s relationship with CNN and HBO Max parent company WarnerMedia,  HBO Max has given the greenlight to [...]

  • Pen Writers Union

    #PayUpHollywood: How Unionizing Has Impacted Assistants’ Fight for Better Pay

    Writers’ assistant Olga Lexell used to rack up around $10,000 a year in medical bills to manage a chronic condition, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, that requires her to sit through thyroid X-rays and frequent blood tests. While her show was on hiatus, she would pay $500 a month to extend the insurance that the studio offered, even [...]

  • Kathryn Hahn Mrs. Fletcher

    Kathryn Hahn Talks Working With an Intimacy Coordinator on 'Mrs. Fletcher'

    HBO’s new comedy “Mrs. Fletcher” follows the journey of an empty-nester divorcee who embarks on a journey of self-discovery and sexual exploration following her son’s departure for college. At the series premiere on Monday night at the Avalon Hollywood in Los Angeles, Kathryn Hahn discussed playing the titular role of Eve Fletcher, a middle-aged woman [...]

  • 'Chance' TV series premiere

    Hugh Laurie Developing Agatha Christie Project for the BBC (EXCLUSIVE)

    Hugh Laurie is working on a small-screen Agatha Christie adaptation, Variety has learned. The star of “The Night Manager” and “House” is developing a script, but which of the Queen of Crime’s books he is adapting is being kept strictly under wraps. The project is through ITV-owned producer Mammoth Screen and is being developed for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content