TV Kids Summer Festival Spotlights French Animation


Superprod’s Clément Calvet, Mediawan Kids & Family’s Julien Borde, Dandelooo’s Emmanuèle Pétry-Sirvin and HARI’s Sophie “Kido” Prigent weighed in on the trends reshaping the thriving French animation sector at the TV Kids Summer Festival this morning.

Calvet is president and producer at Superprod. Borde serves as president of Mediawan Kids & Family. Pétry-Sirvin co-founded Dandelooo, where she is a producer and head of international. Prigent joined HARI as head of sales in early 2023. In a conversation with TV Kids’ Anna Carugati that you can watch here, the panelists discussed France’s heritage of animation production and the challenges and opportunities facing the sector today.

HARI’s Prigent referenced the country’s robust animation training framework, tax credits, subsidies and content quotas as key benefits. Dandelooo’s Pétry-Sirvin mentioned the abundance of linear channels in France, while Superprod’s Calvet highlighted the stability of the local market. “We are very lucky to have a system of very strong commissioners,” Mediawan’s Borde added.

International partners “trust the French producers to be capable of delivering new, innovative, fresh ideas,” Borde added. “They also know that we are capable of resolving many very complex financing situations.”

Calvet added: “French animation can travel; more and more, you can see our content on the channels or platforms in every country in the world, including the U.S.”

Pétry-Sirvin highlighted how French animation has matured. “We’ve strongly improved, notably on the writing. And on the design, we’ve proven our diversity in styles. We have great designers. The talent has increased so much.”

Borde added that French producers are also now “not only seen as people who can finance, who can find the right talent but also studios that can manage to build an IP. Many high-ranking shows in the U.S. originated in France.”

Calvet also pointed to France’s acclaimed animated feature film output.

As for what commissioners are looking for, Borde pointed to “broad demand” from broadcasters, ranging from young preschool to adult animation. “Traditional broadcasters are more open than ever. They can go to more serialized series to different demos. In the last months, we have seen the streamers moving to more commercial IPs. So it’s an interesting time for us.”

In subject matter, commissioners are looking for “lovable characters who spark empathy, who are experiencing everyday situations that kids can relate to, but also emotional intelligence,” Prigent noted. “And a lot of comedy. With all that, if you can bring the family to watch the shows together, then you tick so many boxes.”

Pétry-Sirvin also pointed to the enduring demand for comedy but added, “They’re asking for more meaningful programs. Parents and broadcasters don’t want kids to just be eyeballs anymore and be entertained, but they want to have takeaways. Not in an educational or preachy way, but intertwined into the story to have things that are helping kids feel better about themselves.”

As for styles, Calvet believes that “CG is taking the lead.”

Carugati then asked the panelists to talk about the impact of the streamers on the French animation market.

“One of the platforms is saying that they are looking for sticky programs,” Pétry-Sirvin noted. “They’re talking about the thumbnail choice. The kid has to click on something they recognize as a brand or something extremely striking. That scares me; I have to say. It’s good in a way because it’s the essence of what the show is about. But at the same time, your series is judged on a very small image. You cannot explain what it’s about and how good it’s going to be. It’s a way of judging that is extremely harsh. You have to be extremely impactful on two centimeters.”

“Discoverability is critical for the streamers,” Borde added. “Netflix has been such a big believer in the algorithm mechanism pushing content and a function of your taste. The streamers have seen that is not enough and that if you want to build an IP, a franchise, you need to help discoverability. You need to curate your content and market it. We are starting to see the streamers [using] the traditional ways of establishing an IP.”

The streamers have created new opportunities for local studios, Calvet added. “But that is mainly dedicated to service work. It hasn’t changed the number of productions from French producers on their own.”

Addressing local content quotas on the streamers, Pétry-Sirvin said there had been disappointment that animation wasn’t carved out as a separate category. “They had no obligation to invest in kids’ programming and animation. So it didn’t change anything for us.”

On managing production costs, Calvet pointed to the “strong collective bargaining agreement in France that helps us to stabilize the prices. Of course, if you don’t have enough talent, there’s some pressure, and they have a better salary at the end of the day. But it varies. Sometimes, there’s more work; sometimes, there is less work. It’s not a big variation, I would say.”

Dandelooo is relying on the traditional co-pro model to manage financing productions, partnering with other entities within Europe and tapping into the regional subsidy program. It’s the same at Mediawan, Borde said. “It’s using the European toolbox that is here. We have real competition between the different tax credit systems in Europe to attract business. It’s really something that is helping us cope with the different financing challenges we face.”

The conversation then moved to windowing and evolving views on exclusivity.

“There is a better understanding that content needs to be everywhere,” Borde noted. “To build an IP in such a fragmented environment, you need to be where kids are. Our partners understand that. But still, in their DNA, they love exclusivity. They need exclusivity for their own business. We understand that. But it is moving to sharing more.”

“In theory, they all say they want to share,” noted Pétry-Sirvin. “But when you boil down to two trying to make a deal, it doesn’t work anymore. I’d love it to be easier, but exclusivity still seems to be king in many situations.”

Prigent added: “A lot of the platforms and broadcasters have been asking for known franchises and successful second runs. They’re aware they can’t necessarily get full exclusivity. Budgets have been a bit challenged recently. So we see more flexibility, but it’s true that as much as possible, they’d love to have that exclusivity, or at least they make compromises in one season or shortening the length of the holdbacks.”

Calvet noted the need for exclusivity is not coming from the streamers—linear channels are still hesitant to take on a show that is already available on-demand. “We need to convince both sides to live together.”

For Pétry-Sirvin, though, it’s the streamers that are least willing to share, especially when it comes to shows already airing on a linear broadcaster in a market. “They will not touch it if France has already taken it. It’s starting to slowly change a bit. They realize that if they don’t make an effort there, they will walk away from great projects.”

Broadcasters launching free on-demand services complicates windowing further, Prigent noted. “They require the whole series to be there, unlimited, at any given time. That is making it a bit challenging for us to get the pay services to come in and have these multiple windows. In that sense, FAST channels work much better, I think, because it’s linear still.”