Facing a sluggish economy and an equally shaky advertising market, exports of French-produced TV shows fell by 2% in 2001, according to a recent industry report. The annual TVFI survey on French television production, co-authored by TV France International, Centre National de la Cinématographie (CNC) and Institut National de l’Audiovisuel (INA), pegged sales of French TV exports at US$123.7 million last year.
The news was not all doom and gloom, though. Foreign investment in co-productions (mostly with Western European and North American companies) and presales increased by 21.8%, reaching a plateau of US$203.5 million. Factoring in this segment into overall production activity, the survey maintains that total foreign contribution to the French TV industry increased by 11.5%, from US$293.5 million to US$327.4 million.
Western Europe (led by Germany and Austria with a 37.4% share) remained the strongest market for French TV productions, accounting for 68.7% of total exports. Next on the list was the U.K. and Ireland at 25% (up nearly 10% from the previous year). The report contends that the latter territory posted the biggest increase because of its buying binge of French-produced animation and game show programs. Sales to Italy dipped from 16.4% to 9.8% of total exports, with the region relying more on local productions to fill its airwaves. Sales to North America – primarily to Canada – remained stable at 9.7%, while emerging regions like Asia (led by Japan, which accounts for 40% of the territory’s sales) rose from 6.3% to 8.5%.
In terms of production styles, animation solidified its perch as the top moneymaking genre, accounting for 44% (US$55.1 million) of all sales abroad last year, up nearly 10% from a year ago. Along with educational programming, it made up 54% (US$110 million) of all French co-pros produced last year, a jump of 7.2% over 2000. Buttressed by top-selling shows like Totally Spies! (Marathon), Lucky Luke (Xilam), Titeuf (France Animation) and 64 Zoo Lane (Millimages), 76.6% of French animation was exported to countries in Western Europe, 11.9% to North America, followed by Asia (4.2%), Latin America (3.5%), Central Europe (1%) and Africa (0.6%).