TF1’s New Boss Rodolphe Belmer Talks Content Alliances With Streamers to Fill Void Left by U.S. Shows
Rodolphe Belmer, the former CEO of Canal+ Group, who recently took the helm of France’s leading commercial channel TF1, said the company looks to forge deeper ties with streaming services, including Netflix, to team on premium content.
Belmer, who was part of Netflix’s administration board from 2018 to 2022, explained TF1 is facing a dearth of U.S. content available for its primetime slots. “U.S. series are less and less available because of the vertical integration of big U.S. production companies and networks, so we have to replace the bulk of these programs,” said Belmer, who recently succeeded to Gilles Pelisson as CEO and chairman of TF1.
The French executive pointed out these U.S. shows are not easy to replace because they pulled some of the highest ratings on primetime TF1 and were “very profitable because the costs to acquire them were largely below the advertising revenues they generated.” In most cases it’s also much cheaper to acquire a show than produce an original from scratch. One of the solutions to fill that gap, Belmer said, is to combine ressources with streaming services to co-produce together upscale event shows that are also beneficial to the TF1 brand.
He cited “Les combattantes,” a female-led WWI-set series Les Combattantes which was co-financed with Netflix and premiered on TF1, drawing hit ratings. Under the deal struck with Netflix, TF1 had first linear and digital rights up to seven days after the airing of the series’ last episode. Netflix took over all rights to the show for a number of years, allowing TF1 to get back the series later on.
“We are very happy about our first collaborations with Netflix which have allowed us to deliver programs that were very well financed and benefited from a production value and quality of entertainment that helped us attract a very large audience in France and also also overseas,” Belmer continued.
Following “Les Combattantes” and “The Bonfire of Destiny” (both of which star Audrey Fleurot), Belmer revealed that TF1 is partnering up with Netflix on a third opus produced once again by Iris Bucher and the banner Quad. The historical series will be about the Front Populaire political movement in the 1930’s France. TF1 is also developing a live action series adaptation of the famed manga Tsukasa Hojo’s “Cat’s Eye” with Big Band Story and a streaming service.
While he didn’t mention TF1’s pulling out of Salto — the soon-to-fold streamer jointly launched with France Televisions and M6 in 2020 — Belmer said the group will be building a strong free VOD offer on its service MyTF1 with some exclusive content going forward.
Belmer also discussed TF1 Group’s production and distribution group Newen, which boasts operations in 10 countries and saw its annual revenue rise by 30% to $465 million in 2022, out of $2.7 billion for the whole of TF1 Group (itself part of Bouygues).
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