Brits still wear crown in exporting formats

U.K. remains leader in selling rights internationally

LONDON -- Nobody sells TV formats like the Brits.

Five years after the last survey of its type, a new report from producers' body PACT shows that the U.K. remains the global leader in exploiting format rights internationally, exceeding even the U.S.

The report, released Thursday, studied the consumption patterns of the top 45 broadcast channels in the eight biggest television markets and found that the U.K. accounted for 53% of all exported format hours in the worldwide market last year, compared with just 14% from the U.S. and 18% from the Netherlands.

U.K. formats sold to the U.S. are the reason Brits have remained at the top of the global format export league, the report concluded, with such formats as "What Not to Wear," "10 Years Younger," "Cash Cab" and "Property Ladder," performing particularly well.

Five years ago, the U.K. accounted for 51% of global format exports, while the U.S. accounted for 17% and the Netherlands accounted for 18%.

But the U.S. continued to dominate the overall television export market, which also included sales of finished programming, accounting for 67% of the global program sales market, with the U.K. in second place with 13.1% of the market. Those levels are virtually unchanged since the last time PACT undertook such a comprehensive survey in 2003.

In terms of finished program sales, the U.S. remains even more dominant, accounting for 76% of the global market, while the U.K. came in a minor second with 7% and Germany finished third with 4%.

U.K. Trade and Investment Minister Digby Jones, welcomed the report's findings. "Television trade is big business for the U.K.'s dynamic creative sector and I'm pleased we've consolidated our global position, second only to the U.S. in overall television export sales," he said. "Our homegrown companies continue to create that winning television formula which not only captures the imagination and attention of British audiences but can then be adapted and remade for viewers around the world."