"Platforms have sizeable ambitions and they contribute towards overall inflation"
Industry Report: Series
Manuel Alduy • Director of Film and International Development, France Télévisions
by Deny Grillo
The director breaks down the strategy of one of the biggest players in the European audiovisual field
Série Series saw Manuel Alduy, director of Film and International Development at France Télévisions, breaking down the strategy of one of the biggest players in the European audiovisual field, a firm that is working on a plan to diversify its offer and to win over younger audiences.
Cineuropa: What trends have you noticed in France Télévisions’ films this year?
Manuel Alduy: The first trend is diversification. We’re moving away from simple linear broadcasting of our films on our TV channels (France 2, France 3 and France 5 for films). These are channels with fairly elderly audiences. France 2 and France 3 are very popular national channels, so the films shown on these channels often draw in hefty audiences. One of France TV’s missions is to support arthouse cinema. But over the past year, we’ve moved full throttle into digital; in other words, on-demand broadcasting. We’re buying films which wouldn’t have been conceivable for our historic channels. For example, on 30 June 2022, for the second time this year, we put a collection of Japanese animated films online. We use digital as a space for diversity; it allows us to offer up films to communities of fans who weren’t easy to reach when we only had our linear channels with their very specific offerings. We’re moving away from restrictive categories towards a situation where all types of films (unless they’re too violent in various respects) can be broadcast and presented to audiences by France TV.
Our aim now is to reconcile the different kinds of audiences, rather than having a ghetto of series for youngsters on digital and then series for elderly people on traditional TV. Our goal is to build bridges. When we broadcast Normal People, which is a series mostly geared towards younger audiences, we also launched it on France.tv, where it earned three million views in the space of a month, which is excellent. We also broadcast it on France 5, where the average age is 67 years old, and we recorded 700,000 viewers, which, for a channel which usually attracts somewhere in the region of 350,000 viewers, is very positive.
Is the inclination we’re seeing towards co-production a European trend?
There’s a desire for co-production but not for the reality of co-production. What we’re actually seeing is certain countries investing equity in series created by other countries. The natural tendency of TV channels is to turn up with their national project and to ask for money from other European countries, but that’s not really co-production.
Added to this is the fact that platforms don’t want European co-productions, they only want national works. When they come knocking at the door of France TV, they want to hear about France TV’s big French series, not our multi-country co-productions. It’s strange; I can see that traditional broadcasters all want co-productions, because we believe that that’s how we’ll gain access to larger audiences. But, in reality, we’re very selfish and nationalistic; we only offer up big, national productions. And streamers are only interested in ultra-local works.
How have your audiences changed since Covid? It seems that young people aren’t returning to cinemas?
I think the problem is more serious than that, because it’s not only young people. A large segment of the general public no longer goes to the cinema since Covid, and these are people of all ages. Youngsters have abandoned the television altogether, and when there’s a big film for them, they go to the cinema. Whereas there are lots of films for elderly people, but they don’t go to the cinema.
Has the arrival of platforms caused competition over film talent?
Yes, it’s a bit of a frenemy relationship. We have series which we make in collaboration with platforms. In these circumstances, we’re not competitors, and we manage to pay for some pretty expensive series. We’ve produced series such as Bardot, revolving around Brigitte Bardot, and the sci-fi series Ouija in league with several platforms.
That said, platforms have some very sizeable ambitions and they contribute towards overall inflation. Authors lead an unstable life, they hop from one project to the next and it’s very hard to meet deadlines. The flip side of this is that there are lots of projects, so if we lose one series, we can always pick up another. There are too many of them; over the past two years we’ve received eight projects about Monte-Cristo, five about Napoleon, nine series set in space and three series about cathedrals.
(Translated from French)
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