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Sunny Side of the Doc 2023

Rapporto industria: Documentario

Il CNC analizza il mercato del documentario nel 2022


Produzione, finanziamento, distribuzione in Francia e all'estero: il centro francese ha presentato il suo bilancio annuale del genere documentario al Sunny Side of The Doc

Il CNC analizza il mercato del documentario nel 2022
Il rapper Orelsan nella sua miniserie Montre jamais ça à personne, al terzo posto della classifica dell'audience dei documentari su VOD in Francia nel 2022 nella fascia demografica 15+

Questo articolo è disponibile in inglese.

Represented by Amanda Borghino (Deputy Director of Audiovisual), Cécile Lacoue (Head of Studies and Future Trends) and Anne d’Autume (Head of Documentary Support), the CNC took to the stage in the auditorium of La Rochelle’s Espace Encan to present its usual annual report on the documentary genre, on the occasion of the 34th international documentary market, Sunny Side of the Doc.

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The most significant statistic is the 10.7% drop in subsidised production in 2022 to 1,669 hours, a downward trend which has been observed since 2017. The decrease in budgets is less pronounced, however (-7.3% for a total of €341.3m), while hourly costs hit their highest ever level at 204,500 euros. Another finding worth mentioning is that documentaries are the main genre subsidized by the CNC, which pays for 41.7% of hours produced and covers 19.2% of budgets.

The finer detail behind the funding of French documentary production sees broadcasters covering 44.7% of budgets to the tune of €152.7m. France Télévisions and Arte France are still the two main backers, offering €71.6m for 755 hours and €32.4m for 234 hours respectively, but their investments actually fell by roughly 15% last year. Commitments from private TV networks are, however, on the rise again, thanks to Canal+ (€19.5m), M6 (€10.2m) and TF1 (€6m). Online services’ investments are also increasing (€7.7m in 2022 versus €4.4m in 2021), even if they still only account for 5% of broadcasters’ contributions. Equally interesting is the fact that foreign contributions are on the rise (covering 7.4% of budgets) but that these tend to focus on just one segment of French production (benefitting less than a quarter of subsidized hours), with producers funding 16.7% of budgets themselves.

In terms of themes, French production is overwhelmingly dominated by society documentaries, which account for half of subsidized production (838 hours), with Arte turning out to be the leading silent partner for the genre in 2022 (71 hours), ahead of France 5 (70 hours). Next come history and arts-based documentaries: the three most highly represented themes within subsidized production, although the presence of science-based documentaries has also been steadily increasing over the past 10 years (85 hours).

A highly desirable Eldorado for producers looking to work with streamers (a gold rush limited by order volumes) and a competitive playing field on which traditional broadcasters also try to operate, the area of documentary series is experiencing a slight increase, accounting for 11.4% of works (162 series in 2022). That said, one-offs are still by far the predominant format in French audiovisual production, accounting for 88.6% (1,253 one-off documentaries in 2022) of docs. In funding terms, documentary series come at an additional cost: 241,500 euros per hour (+12.8 % in 2022 on 2021) versus 191,700 euros per hour for one-off docs (+0.8 % last year).

As for broadcasting, documentaries account for 18% of French TV networks’ programme selection and for 10% of programmes watched. Creative documentaries, which are proving the focus of everyone’s attention (read our interview with Hervé Rony, Managing Director of Scam), account for 35.9% of the total documentary offering and for 10,397 hours broadcast on national networks (with Arte and France 5 leading the way and putting forward 68% of this offer all by themselves).

In terms of platforms, the volume of French documentaries on offer has multiplied three-fold since 2018, and specialised French platforms have evolved (Capuseen, Spicee, Tënk, etc.). Within this particular broadcasting space, consumers prefer documentary series which account for 70% of documentaries watched, with Netflix offering the widest range of documentaries (1,240 titles), followed by Prime Video (601 titles) and MyCanal (472 titles). As for the highest documentary audiences in 2022 in the SVOD field for audiences 15 years old and over, Harry & Meghan, The Tinder Swindler and the French production Orelsan: Don’t Ever Show This to Anyone all steal focus.

Last but not least, in terms of the exportation of French documentaries (whose 2021 statistics should be interpreted through the filter of the pandemic, especially when it comes to delivery delays), international sales dropped by 20.1% to €36.8m compared to the record numbers of 2020. Europe remains the main recipient (accounting for 47.9% of French documentary sales, on average, between 2012 and 2021), with Germany and Belgium at the front of the queue, the USA leading the line of non-European buyers and Japan occupying 7th place. Also worth a mention is the heightened power of the documentary genre thanks to platforms (accounting for close to 20% of sales in 2021 or €7.2m), especially those focused on a specific theme (such as Curiosity Stream), because global platforms (Netflix, Disney+) are still more difficult for French documentaries to access.

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