Netflix (“Lupin”), Amazon, Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus signed a long-gestating agreement with France’s broadcasting authorities (CSA) on Thursday to start investing 20% of their annual revenues on French content. The CSA expects the investment to be between €250 million ($282 million) to €300 million ($330 million) on average per year.
The agreement came together after months of negotiations between French industry guilds, streamers and TV groups. A source close to the negotiations said €200 million ($225 million) will be invested by Netflix alone.
The pact provides specific guidelines on the new investment obligations that were published in the French decree that came out in July and stemmed from the implementation of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS). The legislation was put forth by the European Commission to even the playing field between streaming giants and existing players across Europe. France is the first country to have set new regulations as part of the AVMS; other countries within the E.U. are expected to follow course.
“This step marks a milestone for the French and European cultural model,” the CSA said. “Up until now, only the local players were obligated to contribute to the financing of content and in light of the profound transformation of the audiovisual landscape and the (growing subscription numbers of non-linear services), these agreements set in stone the involvement of these big international companies within (our) film and TV industry.”
While Netflix, Amazon and Disney Plus have signed the pact, five other streamers are expected to do so before the end of the year, the CSA said in a release. If they decline to sign the agreement, the CSA will notify them of their mandatory investment obligations, the org added.
Streamers will have to dedicate 80% of the 20% invested in French content to audiovisual works, such as shows, movies and documentaries that will world premiere on the platform. The remaining 20% — or 4% of streamers’ total turnover in France — will be invested in movies that will be theatrically released and will be subjected to the country’s strict windowing rules.
These windowing regulations are expiring at the end of the year, and are currently being debated by streaming services and free-to-air channels in France that are fighting to access movies at an earlier stage.
Canal Plus group, the Vivendi-owned pay TV group, last week signed an agreement with France’s film guilds to invest €600 million ($680 million) in French and European films from 2022 to 2024.
As part of the agreement, Canal Plus was granted access to movies six months after their release in theaters and got an exclusive nine-month-minimum window for acquired content that could be extended to 16 months, if a second window is been bought. Netflix, which currently has a 36-month window, like other streamers, is hoping to gain access to films 12 months after their release. The service has so far financed 10 original films in France, and will look to invest in 15 to 20 movies that will be released in French theaters in 2023, according to a source close to the company.