Credit: Thibault Grabherr – FTV – Federation
once against Rivals and broadcasters have become unlikely allies in the face of increased competition and economic pressure in the wake of the pandemic and the launch of more content viewing platforms.
Even in France, where Netflix was dubbed “the devil” by France TV president Delphine Ernotte Cunci in a 2019 interview, the tide has turned, and a number of ambitious series have been co-financed by local broadcasters and broadcasters.
Examples of collaborations range from dramas such as “Le Bûcher du destin” and “Femmes en guerre” from TF1 and Netflix to action series such as “Dark Hearts” by Ziad Doueiri from France Télévisions and Amazon Prime Video. What is the common denominator between these shows? Filmed in French with domestic distribution, it has high budgets and production values normally reserved for international co-productions such as Marie Antoinette, which was filmed in English and produced with French and foreign television partners.
“The platforms and TV channels are more flexible than before and open for the first or second window of ‘Made in Italy’ co-financing and advance sales with the next round of work” Bardot “about the rise to stardom of Brigitte Bardot, written and directed by Danielle and Christopher Thompson. While developed “Bardot” in association with France TV Netflix pre-purchased the show and got a second window in France and a first window in Germany.It wasn’t a big deal, but they gave back the 10% we lost,” Breton says.
“Until recently, TV stations wouldn’t show anything before the first broadcast, but now if there’s a lot of money involved and if they can help them fund a show, it’s OK to let them in on streaming services,” Britton adds. .
In France, for example, Women at War, a female drama set during World War I, was developed with TF1 before the advent of Netflix. “It’s a budget of 20 million euros ($21 million) for eight episodes: no TV channel is able to monetize that kind of budget alone in France, but we couldn’t make an inexpensive WWI show, so we had Netflix with us,” he says. Says. said Iris Bocher of Quad Drama, one of the show’s producers.
“Viewers have access to high-quality content; they’re watching really original, amazing programming, and they don’t care where they’re from, so if they see a show with less production value, they won’t watch that,” Bucher says.
Like most of these series, “Women at War” and “The Bonfire of Destiny” are represented in international markets by a distribution company, in this case Newen Connect, which engineered the agreement with Netflix and sold the rights to remakes and their sequels. around the world. For example, Newen sold the rights to remake “The Bonfire of Destiny” in Italy and Turkey. Under the deal, shows were picked up by Netflix after TF1, which had first window rights to both series for up to seven days after the final episodes air.
“It was a real boon for TF1 because even though they had fewer rights, they got access to an ambitious series with a production value that exceeded their own investment, and for Netflix because it cost them less than if it were the original,” says Bocher. She notes that “Women at War” and “The Flame of Destiny” have attracted different audiences on Netflix and TF1. Quad Drama, TF1 and Newen Connect return with another historical series set in 1936 against the backdrop of the French Popular Front, a pioneering left-wing movement.
The trend towards partners is also reinforced by the implementation in January 2022 of the French decree resulting from the Directive on Audiovisual Media Services of the European Commission that invests broadcasters and TV groups in local content.
For Manuel Douai, Head of Cinema and International Development at Télévision France, the decree marked “the beginning of a new era” because operators had to “open up to co-production of series and acquire the rights for a shorter period.”
But the executive, who worked for the Canal Plus Group for 22 years as well as Twentieth Century Fox, says co-production with the platforms remains “Plan B.” “When we work with other TV channels in other countries, there is no overlap in our territory, but when we work with a platform, we see our windows shrink,” he continues.
Alduy cites “Around the World in 80 Days” or “The Swarm”, which Télévisions France produced with European broadcasters, and managed to keep “long windows in France” on both. Meanwhile, on “Vortex”, a sci-fi series produced by Quad Drama, France Télévisions teamed up with Netflix and had to give up the rights to the second window. In Dark Hearts, Alduy says France Télévisions had to cede the rights to the first window to Amazon, and took a second window nine months after Prime Video because the broadcaster was “bringing in too much funding”. Not only did Prime Video co-finance the series, they joined early and followed the production closely, says Sahar Bagheri, Prime Video’s director of content in France.
Bagheri says the collaboration with France Télévisions on Dark Hearts is a “virtuous example”. “When we work like this, we establish a dialogue with the producer and broadcaster and draw creatively from the expertise of the producer commissioning team and local broadcasters, while benefiting from our input.”
Bagheri says the challenge remains finding “a common DNA in terms of target audience and tone” when it comes to potential alliances with television stations. We say “no” more than “yes,” she admits, but there is “an ongoing dialogue with all the broadcasters to find the right projects.” »
Although the primary audience of TV channels is larger than that of streamers, Bagheri
He says: “TF1, France 2 and now M6 also have attraction ambitions
younger people. »
Aldoi also notes that “finding joint ventures is difficult,” he says. “The platforms are increasingly interested in what the TV channels are doing” because the success of “Lupin” has “encouraged operators to look to mainstream programming”. But it’s also easier because “the success of services like Netflix over the past decade has shaped audience tastes and prompted broadcasters to broaden their editorial horizons” and upgrade their programming with premium shows. But France TV “could not broadcast it [in] more than €1m per episode” while “big shows” require budgets of at least €1.5m or €2m per episode, Pang notes.
But Doi says there is much more to projects than potential alliances with broadcasters. In the past two years, France Télévisions has partnered with streaming services on just five series – including “Bardot,” “Dark Hearts,” and most recently, “Drops of God” with Apple TV+ and Hulu Japan. The broadcaster has 20 ambitious projects in development and Douai believes some of them will not be funded.
However, Breton predicts that the trend toward collaboration will intensify as broadcasters, like broadcasters, seek to reduce the costs of their local television programming.
Broadcasters realized that it was not worth financing the expensive shows they could only exploit on SVOD and would operate primarily in the local market; That’s why in many cases now it’s a good idea to invest less for less rights,” Britton says, adding that Federal is looking to participate in series and co-finance alongside the platforms and complement financing through international pre-sales.
“It’s an open world where everyone talks to everyone trying to find the best combinations,” Britton says.