Netflix France Bows Limited Series on Controversial Tycoon Bernard Tapie

Netflix Sept. 13 began streaming “Tapie,” a fictional seven-part limited series based on the late French business tycoon Bernard Tapie, whose flamboyance was only matched by the myriad controversies that surrounded much of his adult life.

Tapie, who died in 2021 at the age of 78, is played by French actor Laurent Lafitte (The Takedown) and traces a 30-year timeline (1966-1997) that saw the self-made mercurial businessman create a national presence and become a success story, appearing on French TV, buying fiscally-troubled German sportswear brand Adidas and the Olympique de Marseille soccer club, and creating the La Vie Claire (based on healthcare products) professional cycling team, which included French cycling icon Bernard Hinault and American Greg LeMond, among other ventures.

Along the way, most of Tapie’s business forays were conducted in the public to great fanfare — and often controversy.

The Adidas fiscal turnaround saved a venerable brand, but Tapie’s subsequent $500 million majority stake sale of the company in the early 1990s, while also the urban affairs minister in President François Mitterrand’s socialist government, drew criticism from political opponents, who accused him of using higher-ranking political connections to close the deal.

The La Vie Claire team would win two Tour de France races — the last in 1986 when race winner LeMond found his biggest race challenger to be his own teammate Hinault — much to the delight of the French media.

Tapie would later be convicted for tax evasion and jailed six months for attempting to bribe three of his Marseille soccer players, which resulted in a lifetime ban by French soccer.

“The collapse of Bernard Tapie has become a sort of symbol, the symbol of a triple failure: that of a tabloid society … that of an era of easy money and hysterical financing, which was the 1980s, and that of the power of an ambition to change life,” Philippe Labarde wrote in a column for Le Monde following the mogul’s death.

The Netflix series, of course, has drawn its own criticism from Tapie’s family, who did not participate in the production. Tapie’s widow, Dominique, in a media interview, said she wasn’t afraid of the series, adding instead, “I deplore it.”

Series writer and co-creator Olivier Demangel told AFP that the Netflix show neither blames or excuses Tapie’s behavior.

“This is the story of a television salesman who wanted to get into television, and who ended up incorporating television,” Demangel said.

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Whip Media: Netflix Remains No. 1 SVOD Service in France

After a sluggish debut, Netflix France over the years has established itself as the country’s go-to subscription streaming VOD platform, ahead of rivals Amazon Prime Video and Disney+, according to new data from Whip Media Group.

In a fourth quarter 2021 survey of 3,000 French respondents via its TV Time app, Whip found that 88% of respondents subscribe to Netflix and 76% said they would choose the SVOD behemoth if they only could keep one streaming service. The average respondent subscribed to 2.7 SVOD services.

Driving consumer loyalty is the fact Netflix has invested heavily in local content, a strategy the streamer is emulating in key markets around the world, including the U.K., India, Spain, Germany and Latin America.

The streamer had 42 locally produced French-language series available in Q4, compared with nine on Amazon Prime Video and one on Disney+.

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With the European Union recently implementing a new policy mandating SVODs operating in Europe have at least 30% of their content be European based and invest at least 20% of their local revenue in local content, Netflix, Amazon, Disney+ and Apple TV+ last December signed an agreement with France’s broadcasting authorities (CSA) to start investing between €250 million ($285 million) to €300 million ($342 million) on average per year.

As expected, respondents felt there are too many SVOD services on the market, with 30% indicating they would likely drop one streaming service in 2022. Notably, French respondents were concerned about a platform’s catalog content, with just 24% of respondents considering library content very important. That compares with 45% in Germany, 52% in Spain, 61% in the U.K. and 67% in Italy.

At the same time, 45% of respondents in the U.K. said original content was very important on their SVOD service, followed by 42% in Italy, 36% in France, 35% in Spain and 27% in Germany.

Netflix Loses Market Share in France

Netflix in June reportedly lost market share in France, the one European market where the SVOD pioneer struggled to connect with consumers after launching in 2014. The streaming behemoth still commands French consumer attention with a 37% market share, which is down from 40%, according to new data from NPA Conseil.

Gaining share: SVOD competitors Amazon Prime Video and Disney+, which grew market share to 22.9% and 15.4%, respectively.

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French streamers subscribe on average to 1.9 services, reaching 52.8% market penetration in March, before falling to 49.8% in June.

NPA Conseil reported that 70% of French consumers own at least one streaming media device, which includes connected televisions and related set-top boxes, as broadcasters TF1, France Télévisions and M6 aim to expand their joint SVOD venture, Salto, beyond 1 million subscribers this year.

Netflix Testing Pre-Programmed Linear Channel in France

Netflix created the on-demand VOD experience to disrupt the linear TV ecosystem. Now its going old-school testing a concept called “Netflix Direct” that acts like a linear TV channel streaming pre-programmed content available only to subscribers on the service’s website.

The streaming behemoth began testing the channel in France on Nov. 5, streaming French, U.S. and international content like a a traditional TV channel. Users simply watch what’s available rather than searching for content or browsing recommended programming.

Netflix chose France due to the country’s heavy trend toward television consumption. After a sluggish start, Netflix France now reportedly has about 9 million subscribers.

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“In France, watching traditional TV remains hugely popular with people who just want to a ‘lean back’ experience, where they don’t have to choose shows,” Netflix said in a translated statement.

Netflix ended its most-recent fiscal period with more than 195 million subscribers worldwide. With subscriber growth waning in North America, the streamer’s focus has been on international sub growth. Old-style appointment viewing is geared toward subs who don’t want to search for programming.

“Maybe you’re not in the mood to decide [on a show], or you’re new and finding your way around, or you just want to be surprised by something new and different,” the service stated.


French Daily SVOD Use Increases 61%

Following a sluggish start, consumer adoption of subscription streaming video – notably Netflix – continues to grow in France.

New data from Médiamétrie found daily use of SVOD services increased 61% in 2018 from 2017 – including adding 2.1 million subscribers across various services.

In December, the top three movies streamed included Netflix’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle and Extinction. Top TV series included season one of “The Protector,” “Suits” (season eight) and season one of “You”.

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“Today, nearly nine in 10 French people know at least one SVOD service,” Marine Boulanger, director of cinéma and entertainment at Médiamétrie, said in a statement. “This strong response is due to a multitude of factors such as word of mouth, multiplication of platforms and strong communication around original or exclusive content.”

Médiamétrie found the average SVOD user in France is around 34 years old, single or a young parent and more tech savvy than the average citizen. S/he typically owns a video game console or related streaming video device or smart TV.

Nearly 60% of survey respondents used a SVOD service in the past 12 months, with 50% of millennials using a streaming video service in 2018.

Indeed, 96% of SVOD users streaming content daily, and 15% plan to subscribe to a second service. More the 2.4 million French are considering subscribing to a SVOD service in the next six months from word-of-mouth recommendation.

At the same time, 58% of French SVOD subscribers also watch television live or on-demand daily, while 75% use multiple screens, including a laptop computer, smartphone or tablet. The laptop is used by 55% of French SVOD users; 73% among millennials.

‘Très Bien’: Netflix Dominates French VOD Consumption

After a sluggish start, Netflix France has finally established solid footing since launching in the country five years ago.

The subscription streaming video pioneer, which once faced strong criticism from state-subsidized local media and allegations the service would destroy France’s “cultural exception” — especially at the box office, started strong in 2019, capturing more than 52% of all video-on-demand consumption in January, according to Harris Interactive and CNC.

Netflix surpassed Canal Plus (4.76 million subs) with 5 million subscribers, which prompted the French pay-TV operator to launch a new service – Canal+ Séries– focusing on TV shows, including programming from Showtime, FX and others.

On-demand digital programming continues to grow in popularity among the French, with 18% of users watching delayed content, up 2.5% from January 2018.

Nearly 12% consumed transactional VOD content, down 1.6% from 2018, while digital sales of movies and TV shows increased 6.1%.

In January this year, 52.6% of people watching on-demand programming opted for Netflix – up more than 8% compared to January 2018. By comparison, 19.7% consumers chose MyTF1 VOD and 19.5% on Orange.

Amazon Prime Video generated 15.3%, with Google Play and Apple iTunes at 8.2% and 7.5%, respectively.

Indeed, Netflix France ended January with 2.6 times more users than MyTF1 VOD. Not surprisingly, nine Netflix series ranked among the Top 10 programs viewed.


Netflix Tops 5 Million Subs in France

After fits and starts, Netflix has reportedly exceeded 5 million subscribers in France — five years after launching service largely to indifferent consumers, according to publication Les Echos.

 The publication cited comments from Netflix co-founder/CEO Reed Hastings, who was in Paris recently to announce the opening of a company office staffed by 20 employees.

The benchmark is impressive considering Netflix reported 3.5 million subs last September. Since then, the SVOD pioneer has pledge to double local content production. It has also attempted to bridge a divide with the French movie industry, notably the Cannes Film Festival regarding theatrical windows.

 The publication said French media pay-TV/SVOD platform Canal+ still exceeds Netflix in average monthly revenue per subscriber (€40) compared to €12 for Netflix.

French households now spend 1% – 2% of their TV viewing with Netflix, compared to 10% in the United States. About 1.7 million people in France watch Netflix and other video-on-demand services daily (including 60-70% Netflix) in prime time, according to an NPA Conseil study.

Les Echos said Canal+plans to launch a less expensive SVOD service with localized content to up competition with Netflix. In addition the service has the ability to license American TV shows such as “Billions” and “The Affair,” as Showtime does not distribute internationally.

“Even though it has reached the 5 million subscriber mark in France, Netflix probably still has a real growth reserve,” wrote Les Echos.