A record in 2021 for French audiovisual export despite the continued pandemic

A record in 2021 for French audiovisual export despite the continued pandemic
For the 28th edition of the Unifrance Rendez-Vous in Biarritz, the CNC (National Centre for Cinema and the Moving Image) and Unifrance released their annual report on the export of French audiovisual production. In 2021, exporters of audiovisual programmes were still feeling the impact of the pandemic on business, but demand for content remained very high all around the world.

Given this context, export of French audiovisual programmes (sales, pre-sales, and investment in coproduction) recorded a particularly high level with a total of 375.9m € (up 6% compared to 2020), thereby setting a new all-time record over that which was set in 2020.

Foreign Investment at its highest since 2001
These results are due to the growth in foreign investment in French production: foreign pre-sales are up 30.5%, and, for the first time, have gone over the 100m € mark (at 101.5m €). Foreign contribution to coproduction is also up 10.2% for a total of 88.4m € (the highest since 2003, at 111.5m €).

Presales have risen sharply, notably for drama programmes, reaching 45.5m € (2.4 times that of 2020); animation remains the leading genre for presales at 47m € (down 7.2%), and pre-sales for documentaries are up 12% to 8.8m €.

A marked increase in sales of drama programmes
In 2021, sales of French audiovisual programmes remained high on the whole, at 186.1m € (down 5.5% from 2020).

More specifically, sales of audiovisual programmes in the drama genre are up 21.8% to 57.3m € (the second-highest level ever, after the record 63.7m € set in 2017), representing 30.8% of all sales.

Animation sales have fallen 18.5% to 60.8m €, a drop carried by a number of large companies, but this essentially appears to be a short-term trend linked to the cyclical nature of animation; animation remains the genre with the highest exports with a market share of 32.7%.

Lastly, sales of documentary programmes are down 20.1% to 36.8m €, and a market share of 19.8%. Documentary exporters have been particularly hard hit by delivery delays due to the pandemic with shoots being postponed and bottlenecks in post-production.

Western European Countries: Principal Buyers of French Programmes

The geographical distribution of French programme sales has shown little if any change compared to 2020. Western Europe is still the biggest purchasing region for these programmes with sales of 80.6m € (down 7.4%), representing 43.3% of global earnings (the lowest share to date), and reflecting the trend of diversifying export territories. North America is in second place with sales of 23.3m € (down 7.8%, a 12.5% market share), followed by Asia/Oceania at 14.7m € (down 10.9%, a 7.9% market share). Lastly, sales to Central and Eastern Europe remain stable at 11.8m € (a 6.4% market share).

Sales of worldwide rights have stabilised above 40m € for the third consecutive year, at 41.1m €, that is, 22.1% of total exports.

Revenue from French programming on platforms in foreign territories shows consistent growth, and represented 33.5% of export revenue in 2021. The video-on-demand market is, however, still in transition, with signs of rationalisation in terms of buying on the part of global VoD platforms, whereas new opportunities for the circulation of French works are emerging with the development of AVoD (Advertising Video on Demand) platforms, or FAST (Free Ad-Supported Streaming TV) networks.

These figures reflect the attractiveness of French productions internationally, including programmes such as High Intellectual Potential, Paris Police 1900, La Jeune Fille et la Nuit (a new Alliance européenne coproduction), Kubrick by Kubrick, and Brazen.