×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TF1 at 40: Network Invests in Fresh Talent and Concepts

For decades, TF1 was best known for its stable of high-rating yet aging French TV dramas like “Navarro,” “Julie Lescaut” and “Josephine Guardian Angels,” but shortly after Nonce Paolini took the reins in 2007, the network started shaking up its French fiction slate, investing in fresh talent and concepts. TF1’s wake-up call came in 2008, when local media reports showed that nearly all of France’s top-rated series were American, notably “House” and the “CSI” franchise.

“These American shows revolutionized the tastes of audiences and forced TF1 to push its limits,” says Fabrice Bailly, who was appointed head of programs in 2012. But while U.S. imports are still crucial to draw large audiences to TF1, the network has ramped up its local drama skeins for the past six years with police shows such as “Falco” and “Profilage,” and dramedy series like “Clem,” about a teenage-girl-next-door raising a child with her parents. And auds have turned up to watch these new skeins.

Launched in 2009, “Profilage” is France’s best-rated series, attracting up to 8.6 million viewers, a 31% share.

As part of its brand identity, TF1 has kept a strong emphasis on social and family themes, but it’s also started to bend the codes of cop shows, notably with characters that are more complex. “Falco” centers around a police lieutenant who returns to work after spending 20 years in a coma; “Profilage” boasts a strong female protagonist: s a psychologist who specializes in solving crimes. Police series, such as Luc Besson’s “No Limit,” starring Vincent Elbaz as a clumsy special agent juggling his ex-wife and temperamental teenage daughter, are also getting a shot of comedy.

“We’ve tried to be more daring, to adapt to the taste of audiences, which have become sophisticated, but we’re also making sure to have characters that express positive values,” says Bailly. “As a free-to-air network, TF1 can’t air series that are as purely dark-edged and gritty as pay-TV shows.”

The network has also reached out to international talent and moved into English-language series production.

TF1 recently partnered up with American novelist Harlan Coben (the bestseller “Tell No One” is among his titles) on “No Second Chance,” a drama-procedural series toplining Alexandra Lamy. Her character suffers a blackout after getting attacked and wakes up to find out that her husband has been killed and her daughter has disappeared.

“No Second Chance” marks the first French TV adaptation of a book by Coben, and the author’s first time as showrunner.

“TF1 jumped on board and they gave us a lot of freedom. We all know exactly the kind of stories we want to tell, we want to keep people in suspense, we want to stir their pulse, but we also want that warmth, we want that family feeling and we want to break their heart also,” says Coben.

Although not as aggressive and high profile as paybox Canal Plus in fiction programming — “The Tunnel,” “The Returned” — TF1 does have some pull for international talent like Coben because it can attract about 8 million or 9 million viewers on primetime.

“I can’t think of a network in the U.S. that gets the kind of audience that TF1 gets,” points out Coben.

Through fiction dramas like “No Second Chance,” Bailly says TF1 is looking to create events, position the network as a premium brand and renew the network’s audience.

TF1 has also benefited from the crossing over of Gallic film talent like Jean-Paul Rouve and Mathilde Seigner into the TV world.

Banking on the rising profile of French dramas, TF1 Droits Audiovisuels, the net’s commercial branch, has also started acquiring more of them to sell in international markets.

“Profilage,” for instance, has sold to more than 70 territories and currently airs in 27 countries. In Germany, which already has a powerful local TV industry, “Profilage” (renamed“Profilage Paris”) pulled a healthy 11% market share on Sat.1. The show is also the third-most watched series on the German VOD platform Maxdome, surpassing “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead.”

More TV

  • Front row: CBS THIS MORNING co-hosts

    CBS Hurls New Anchor Team Into TV's Morning-News Wars

    News Team: Assemble. CBS News plans to hurl a new anchor squad into TV’s morning-news wars Monday when a different trio – Gayle King, Anthony Mason and Tony Dokoupil –  takes the helm at “CBS This Morning.” The A.M. effort that has won critical plaudits by focusing on harder news topics, like international affairs and [...]

  • Dutch FilmWorks Moves into International Sales

    Dutch Film Works Moves into International Sales (EXCLUSIVE)

    A major new international sales outfit is coming to market. Dutch Film Works (DFW), one of the largest movie distributors in the Benelux region, is moving into film and TV sales. DFW general manager Angela Pruijssers will spearhead the sales effort alongside Charlotte Henskens, who will join from Amsterdam-based Fortissimo Films, where she is director [...]

  • 'Game of Thrones' Series Finale Details

    'Game of Thrones' Series Finale Details Reportedly Leak Online

    Who will survive the finale of “Game of Thrones”? Some savvy watchers of the HBO series might have a clue heading into Sunday night’s episode after a detailed description of the final installment reportedly leaked online. [Note: This post does not contain any “Game of Thrones” spoilers.] A spokesperson said HBO had no comment. While [...]

  • ‘Hitsville: The Making of Motown’ Acquired

    ‘Hitsville: The Making of Motown’ Acquired by Showtime for U.S.

    Polygram Entertainment, Universal Music Group’s film and television division, along with Capitol Music Group, Motown Records and Fulwell 73 announced today that “Hitville: The Making of Motown” has been acquired by Showtime for release in North America with plans for a fall premiere, and Altitude for theatrical release in the UK and Ireland. The feature-length [...]

  • Game of Thrones Cast

    What's Next for 'Game of Thrones'' Cast Members

    Eight years and eight seasons later, the “Game of Thrones” cast finally has some downtime to relax or move onto other projects. Some stars, like Kit Harington, who told Variety that he doesn’t plan on taking another role as physically demanding as Jon Snow, certainly deserve a break, but others have wasted no time getting back on [...]

  • 'Fleabag' Season 2 Review: How Its

    'Fleabag': Season 2’s Top 10 Breaks From Reality, Ranked (Column)

    The searing first season of “Fleabag” felt like a complete story in and of itself. As adapted from Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s one-woman show, the series expanded on the world of a woman wild with lust and grief with such expert ease that by the time it ended, even Waller-Bridge herself was sure that it was the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content