How the new media timeline works

– February 11, 2019 – Company

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Since the end of 2018, a new media chronology is in force. It is valid for three years. Numerama takes stock

The new version of the media chronology has been in effect since December 2018. A month and a half after the compromise reached between all stakeholders, the updated rules organising the broadcasting of films in France were published in the Official Journal on 10 February. Because it is not easy to find one’s way in all the cases provided for in this system, here is a summary of what should be remembered.

The media chronology?

It is a device used to organize the distribution of films once they have been shown in cinemas. In concrete terms, it determines for each operating mode (television, video-on-demand, subscription video-on-demand, DVD release, etc.) when they can be broadcast and how long before another operating mode competes.

How the new media timeline works

SVOD platforms have to take into account the media chronology and not all are in the same boat.

In France, this mechanism powerfully organizes the film industry, particularly with regard to the financing of works. Indeed, to put it bluntly, television channels that contribute to the production of feature films have faster access to broadcasting after theatrical release than other platforms, which may be considered “non-virtuous”.

From time to time, the media chronology is updated to take into account emerging uses. It was last revised on 21 December 2018 – however, the decree that made it official was published in the Official Journal on 11 February 2019. It hadn’t been touched up in a while: the last time was in 2009. But already, the device could rebound.

What is the media chronology in 2020?

It is possible to distinguish six major modes of film exploitation, but in reality there are up to nine possible types of distribution for a feature film. The main difference is first of all the theatrical success of a film: depending on its result (whether it has less or more than 100,000 admissions after four weeks in theatres), it may or may not benefit from a normal or shortened chronology.

Diffusion window


Film with less than 100,000 admissions

Sale and rental (DVD, VOD, Blu-ray)

4 months

3 months

Canal+, OCS

8 months

6 months

Pay-TV movie channels

17 months

15 months

Free channels (TF1, FranceTV, M6…)

22 or 30 months

20 or 28 months

Paid streaming platforms

17, 30 or 36 months

15, 28 or 34 months

Free streaming platforms

44 months

42 months

Next, what will play is the free channels and the pay streaming platforms. If a free-to-air TV channel invests at least 3.2% of its turnover in the financing of European works, then broadcasting is possible after 22 months. The waiting period is 30 months for a television channel with no investment commitments.

A similar logic is applied to paid streaming platforms. If a Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) service has an agreement with the professional film organizations, it can access films less than a year and a half after a theatrical release. This then increases to 30 or 36 months for broadcasters deemed less virtuous, in the words of the Ministry of Culture.

What are the plans for SVOD?

The situation depends in particular on the signing of specific agreements and compliance with certain agreements (financing French and European creation, enhancing the value of works on the service, being up to date with the tax authorities, diversifying investments, etc.). Depending on the situation, three operating windows may be involved, depending on the degree of virtue of the platform.

A platform can therefore wait a year and a half, two and a half or three years.

How the new media timeline works

Screenshot of Roma on Netflix on February 1, 2019 // Source: Netflix

If Netflix wants to take advantage of attractive operating windows, it has to make greater financial and promotional efforts than producing a series like Marseille – a format that is not concerned anyway. For example, the government would like platforms such as Netflix and Amazon to invest 25% of their annual turnover in creation.

On paper, Netflix and Amazon don’t necessarily need recent films to be attractive (the proof: one French person in ten pays a Netflix subscription, according to figures unveiled in early January), because they mass-produce their own content. The multinational is planning 20 French projects (ranging from documentaries to films and series) for 2020 alone.

  • Read: Netflix, Cannes’ sworn enemy, buys the rights to two award-winning films

What about Canal+?

Because of its importance in the feature film financing circuit, Canal+ appears to be one of the big winners of this revision, which had not moved since 2009. The windows to which the private channel is subject have been brought closer to the theatrical release date of films, so that works can be offered as early as 8 months after their theatrical release, or even 6 months afterwards if they do not have more than 100,000 admissions.

Previously, Canal+ had to wait a year in the first case or ten months in the second.

However, the media chronology is also a hindrance for Canal+ to exist in the field of SVOD. This is what Frank Cadoret, deputy managing director of the Canal+ group, said, noting that the regulations make it very complicated to practice SVOD for cinema in France, which leads the encrypted channel to focus more on television series.

How the new media timeline works

Canal+ // Source: Canal+

Article originally published on 11 February 2019

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