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Sales of French Series Abroad Triple in 25 Years


Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée (CNC) and TV France International have unveiled their annual study of program exports, revealing that the sales of French series abroad totaled nearly €276 million ($305 million) in 2018.

This marks triple the sales seen 25 years ago and includes international presales and foreign input to co-productions. Total sales alone accounted for €173 million ($191 million).

According to the review, which was presented at the Rendez-Vous in Biarritz, animation and fiction are the two sectors driving foreign sales. French animation, which has always been the leading genre in foreign markets, accounted for nearly 40 percent of all programming exports, totaling €69 million ($76 million) in sales in 2018. The animation sector also received nearly €5 million ($6 million) in acquisitions from China in 2018, along with Hong Kong and Taiwan, which became the third-biggest export territory in 2017. The U.S. remained the leading export market for French animation, just ahead of Germany. Series like Oggy and the Cockroaches (which has sold worldwide for the past 20 years) and Totally Spies! have been key international sellers in the genre.

French fiction also held up well, with almost €50 million ($55 million) in sales, attributed to series like Philharmonia (Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Russia) and Maroni (the U.S., the U.K., Germany). Additionally, the new season of Engrenages has now sold to more than 100 territories and has just been acquired for the U.S., and Candice Renoir, which has aired in 80 territories since its launch in 2013, was bought again for Spain in 2018.

Sales of documentaries have shown stability as well, remaining above the €30 million ($33 million) threshold every year since 2013. Apocalypse, Homo Sapiens, 700 requins and Regarde le monde are just some examples of French know-how in the sector.

Video-on-demand services are also a key vector of growth for the French TV industry. Sales to platforms can account for up to one-third of the annual foreign revenue for certain companies. Another observation is that international platforms are now proposing a growing number of French properties, especially for kids’ animation and crime series like Baron noir, acquired by Amazon UK, Ivi in Russia and HBO Go Scandinavia and Spain.

In recent years, reforms to the support system for production implemented by the CNC have encouraged the export of French programs. Emphasis is also put on supporting co-productions (bilateral Franco-Italian fund, Franco-German subsidy fund, co-production agreement with Brazil, subsidy for young French-language creation in sub-Saharan Africa, etc.).

For the past 25 years, TV France International has supported and promoted sales of French TV programming in the international marketplace, with the backing of the CNC.

About Alison Skilton

Alison Skilton is an associate editor of World Screen. She can be reached at


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