With filming stopped for almost two months, in France and the United States, the Coronavirus crisis will have an unprecedented impact on television production, not only this year 2020, but certainly much beyond. While the end of the restrictive measures is still uncertain and will not follow the same modalities according to the countries and perhaps even according to the chains and platforms, here is a point on the situation at the moment T.
TF1, FRANCE TELEVISIONS, M6 …
As for the historic French channels, we are obviously impatient, like the 67 million French, to know what the rules will be to follow during the deconfinement of next May 11 and to what extent the filming of fictions, which today constitute the core of the programming, can resume. Note however that it is the production companies that must make the decisions and not the broadcasters directly. This will pose a certain number of problems, between the various commitments of the actors and the technical teams, work plans which must be completely revised and the role of insurance will of course be decisive.
The first to have announced a return to the set, it is the producer Jean-Luc Azoulay, at the head of the series of TMC weekends, The Mysteries of Love. The resumption of filming for season 23 is thus set for May 12. Technical teams and actors should be equipped with masks and gloves in order to best guarantee their safety. However, no screening test is planned, due to lack of stock. As for the three daily soap operas Tomorrow belongs to us (TF1), Un Si Grand Soleil (France 2) and Plus Belle La Vie (France 3), no recovery date has yet been set. The first has about 6 weeks of episode stock, the second slightly less, while the third, which has continued to air, should be dry in early May.
As for prime-time drama, series or TV movies, everything was stopped dead in early March. This is the case in particular of season 2 of Infidèle for TF1. Producer Pascal Breton said at the microphone of France Inter recently there were only a few days of filming left. It will therefore very likely be necessary to return to school to find Claire Keim on the screen. The shootings of Je te promès, le This Is Us français, La Promesse, Grand Hotel and Une une française française, on the little Grégory, have not yet been scheduled for resumption. Other projects will be postponed for a few months, such as Your Honor with Kad Merad or Plan B with Julie de Bona. Among the series on tour, awaiting broadcast: the continuation of season 10 of Profiling, season 10 of Clem, the TV movie Pourquoi je vis which retraces the journey of Grégory Lemarchal or Coup de foudre in Mauritius.
At M6, the boss of the programs and antennas of the group Thomas Valentin indicated in the columns of JDD: “We are unable to put on the air, between October and January, anything new“. A statement to be tempered, however, since to date, the channel has broadcast only one new French series (Trapped) among those planned for the 2019/2020 season. Are still in stock: They were ten adapted by Agatha Christie, The man I condemned, An ordinary man based on the Dupont de Ligonnès affair, the comedy Toi toi mon toit or even the TV movie Learn to love you.
At France Télévisions, if season 8 of Candice Renoir must be stopped after the broadcast of the first 4 out of 10 episodes following the interruption of post-production, the group’s channels were able to continue to offer something new since, unlike private channels, the much weaker advertising market at the moment has no direct impact on its prime-time, advertising is prohibited. Reunions, Murders in Paradise or even Mongeville were therefore able to be broadcast as planned, with some success.
In terms of American and foreign series, TF1 and the others have kept some of their biggest cartridges for the period when the advertising market will be more favorable; they also rationed the number of unpublished episodes broadcast, such as M6 with its success Why Women Kill passed at the rate of one episode per week. The opportunity for others, like the medical series The Resident on TF1, to arrive earlier than expected, or even to enjoy a better exposure than expected. Finally, several series offered as close as possible to the American broadcast, such as Grey’s Anatomy or Prodigal Son, could not be dubbed in full and therefore had to stop their broadcast before the end of the unreleased tracks. According to Xavier Gandon on Europe 1, general manager of TF1, Grey’s Anatomy will be back in September for the last 10 episodes of season 16.
NETFLIX, AMAZON, DISNEY + …
For streaming platforms, confinement is obviously a boon to stock up on subscribers and increase the volume of views. It is in this context that Disney + was launched everywhere in Europe at the end of March, at the beginning of April with us, being able to announce the figure of 50 million subscribers in the world six months after its launching, a course that they do did not expect to pass for several years! The big Marvel and Star Wars productions, outside of season 2 of The Mandalorian, however, will not be able to arrive as early as expected. Netflix, for its part, has just announced that it will reach 183 million subscribers in April. It should still glitter quite a bit by the end of the year, a forecast suggests 7.5 million additional subscribers.
In the United States, the new Universal Peacock platform has just been launched discreetly because because of the crisis it will not be able to offer its new series before 2021 and will also not be able to take advantage of the 2020 Olympics to promote it as c ‘was originally planned until they were postponed to 2021. As for HBO Max, TimeWarner platform, it will be launched on May 27 in the US, with several new programs, but the famous meeting show of the cast of Friends could not be shot at the moment, so it will be necessary to do without this major media event.
Despite this increasingly strong competition, Netflix does not express concern over the coming months since its content director Ted Sarandos assured in an online conference addressed to investors that the 2020 release schedule will be respected with many programs already in box. “Most of our films and series scheduled for 2020 are already ready for broadcast or in post-production. For The Crown for example, we are in the final stages so the series will come out well this year“, he welcomed.”It is very complicated of course but it is also remarkable: a lot of content will be finished from the living rooms, bedrooms and team kitchens, all over the world!”
Note however that this crisis should have an impact on the programs of 2021, especially if the recovery were to take a long time, but the advantage of Netflix is that it already offers so much new content each week that by launching it a little less during a period will hardly be seen. Furthermore, thehe French have noticed that the release of new releases cannot be guaranteed, the dubbing companies being also closed during confinement. The opportunity to get into VOST! In terms of French productions, Damien Couvreur, the director of the original series, assured the Figaro that all projects in pre-production, production or in development – around twenty – will continue, especially season 2 of Family Business, as well as Arsène Lupine with Omar Sy as a gentleman-burglar.
ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW, HBO, Showtime …
On the side of historic American channels, networks or cable, the impact of the crisis will be much stronger at a time when they are already very destabilized by the platforms. Thus, irreversible consequences could ensue. They first saw their stock of new items run out due to their just-in-time filming. Several series have therefore not been able to complete their current seasons, except for a few episodes, even though the audiences have made a slight jump thanks to confinement.
But above all, the traditional “pilot season”, the period during which the chains choose their new series for the next school year and which usually takes place from January to May, could not take place. Only one pilot, from a comedy (B Positive), was able to be shot and staged in full on the fifty ordered! Result: networks should postpone or even cancel certain projects and order the most solid without going through the pilot box, a method which is also that of platforms, which has the advantage of being faster but more risky too. As a result, if filming resumes in July, as hoped, then the start of the school year could take place almost as if nothing had happened. But it is the most optimistic version. It could also be that the return to school is really only possible from January 2021 …
Consequently, the chains of the whole world will not be able to hurry with the screenings of May, in Los Angeles, during which they watch and put options, even buy directly, the American series which they will program in the following months on their antennas. For the moment, the event is postponed to a later date when the producers will have episodes to show. The pilot season could ultimately experience its last moments on this occasion when the main managers of the networks had already expressed the wish for several years to change models.
At HBO, so on OCS in France, we have already postponed certain series planned for the spring, such as The Undoing with Nicole Kidman, in the fall. The same should apply to other cable channels. Summer promises to be a little less busy than usual …