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Otman Meriche

Otman Meriche

Managing Director of AFP-Services

AFP-Services, a successful bet on diversification

First major sports event coverage, new corporate breakthrough, successful foray into the broadcast market: 2017 saw AFP-Services hit new heights thanks to its production skills and use of the AFP network.

With a rapidly expanding client base and solid profitability, AFP-Services continues to make inroads into the on-demand content market. The subsidiary owes this progress in part to sales from the corporate sector that are now equal with the institutional side of the business. It also owes it to a know-how that has enabled it to win big contracts like covering the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku, Azerbaijan: 54 countries represented in 24 disciplines with 1,600 medals handed out.

« AFP-Services was able to respond to the organisers' specific needs," says Otman Meriche, Managing Director. We sent a team of 19 people from France, Britain, Spain, Italy, Sweden and Lebanon to keep the baku2017.com site fed with text and photo in real time. "We could rely on the experience of AFP's professionals and its infrastructure," says the head of the subsidiary, adding that "not many companies can offer such multimedia coverage.»

Answering clients' needs

This operation was widely picked up by global media and gave AFP-Services and the quality of its production a wider audience. "Our main sales pitch is that we are a production company with the network of a global news agency," says Otman Meriche. "This allows us to plan quickly and also to distribute to AFP clients because all of our production appears on AFP Forum."

AFP-Services has developed particular skills in sport, which has given rise to regular contracts with some corporate clients. For example, for the second time running, insurance company AG2R La Mondiale bought our exclusive services during the Tour de France. We filmed the team's cyclists every day, broadcast the images and fed their corporate Twitter account. Outside the competition, we are also contracted to provide video for the site vivonsvelo.com, sponsored by the same client, which aims to promote cycling.

"We put the client's request into action," explains Otman Meriche, who cites as an example fashion week shows shot by AFPServices for Chinese platform Tencent. "This internet giant sponsors fashion events throughout the world and wanted its own coverage. But it is also a player in the sports world, which enabled us to deepen our collaboration."

May 7, 2017 – Paris, France – Inside an AFP-Services production van during Emmanuel Macron's victory speech at the Louvre.

After the institutional and the corporate markets, a focus on broadcast

For AFP-Services, the corporate universe does not stop at big companies. A growing number of non-governmental organisations appreciate its ability to provide the skills they need and its global network. UNICEF for example signed a big contract to kick off emergency campaigns and mobilise a stringer network in the event of breaking news. The Center for Reproductive Rights has the same contract while the African Press Organisation (APO) has asked us to provide images for their events.

Although the corporate segment is enjoying a boom, AFP-Services continues to rely on the institutional market for the bedrock of its sales. Since 2016, we have produced news programmes for EuroparlTV, the web channel of the European Parliament. We have a dedicated team for this channel which has developed a range of formats adapted for different ways of broadcasting, starting with social media. We have enjoyed such success that the European Commission, already an AFP-Services client, wants a similar service. We are also preparing a project to provide educational content for the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights.

Another core business at AFP-Services, the exclusive media market, is also booming. Apart from adapting the AFP wire, the sub-subsidiary Media Services offers one-stop-shop services to TV channels. "For both rounds of French presidential election, we organised stand-ups in Paris for foreign TV channels that wanted to cover Macron. This is the first time we organised a broadcast services operation of this quality and all the big channels put their hands up," says Otmar Meriche. His aim is to repeat the operation for the Ryder Cup, the golf tournament that will take place in France in September 2018.

Stand-up de l'élection présidentielle : les moyens mobilisés par AFP-Services

- 23 avril 2017 - QG du candidat Macron, Porte de Versailles : 4 caméras, plus 1 partagée avec l’Eurovision - 0W mai 2017 - Pyramide du Louvre : 5 caméras, plus 2 partagées avec l’Eurovision

- Effectifs : 9 cameramen, 9 cadreurs, 9 producteurs chargés de s’assurer de la liaison, 1 maquilleuse pour les journalistes arrivant sur les podiums

- Diffusion : 2 cars régie SNG multiflux (dont celui de l’AFP aux deux tours) pour la diffusion des images par satellite

- Clients : la plupart des grandes chaînes dont BBC, CNN, NHK, TVA, ...