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Digital Gains, Asia Growth Drive 10% Increase in British TV Exports

Variety logo Variety 2/4/2017 Cynthia Littleton
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Increasing sales of digital rights and higher demand from top Asian markets fueled a 10% rise in the value of British TV exports during the 2015-2016 cycle, according to the U.K.’s PACT trade org.

The annual survey by the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television found British TV exports hit about $1.65 billion in 2015-16, up 10% from the 2014-15 cycle, when sales were essentially flat from the year before. Among the most widely distributed productions were “The Night Manager,” “Downton Abbey,” “Deutschland 83,” “The Returned,” “Sherlock,” “Doctor Who,” “Poldark,” “The X Factor,” “Mr. Selfridge,” “The Mysteries of Laura” and “Top Gear.”

Exports to Japan marked the single-biggest increase by country, rising 48% year-over-year to $18.7 million. India (43%), China (40%), South Korea (39%) and Spain (33%) rounded out the top five gainers. The U.S. remains the largest export market for U.K. producers, with business rising 16% to $620 million. Sales to Canada dropped 29% to $58.7 million; sales to Australia and New Zealand were down 7% to $162 million.

France ranks as the U.K.’s biggest non-English speaking market, with sales rising 5% to $91.1 million.

Deals for digital rights to U.S.-based SVOD outlets drove the gain in business with the U.S. Sales of digital rights soared 72%, to $157.2 million. Production orders for new and returning shows in the U.S. were up 12% to $199.8 million. Co-production activity in the U.S. was flat year-over-year at $43.7 million.

Europe remains the U.K.’s biggest market for exporting formats.

The report only briefly addressed the impact of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union on the TV export market, noting that political instability in Europe was cited by PACT member companies as a potential barrier to growth in the 2017-18 cycle. PACT CEO John McVay called on the U.K. government to take steps to protect the thriving TV sector.

“The impressive level of year-on-year growth demonstrates that the sector is embracing the challenges of the global marketplace and is adept at exploiting new opportunities,” McVay said. “However, with Brexit on the horizon, continued support from the government will be crucial if we are to ensure that UK companies can carry on punching above their weight on the world stage.”

(Pictured: “The Night Manager”)


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