MIPCOM 2012: U.S. Remains Dominant Buyer For U.K. TV Programming

BBC/Courtesy of Everett Collection

Benedict Cumberbatch (left) plays the title role and Martin Freeman plays Watson in the BBC's "Sherlock."

British programs including "Sherlock," "Frozen Planet" and "Doctor Who" remain on American shopping lists according to a report from U.K. trade body Pact.

LONDON – U.K. television production exports grew overall by nine per cent in 2011, according to a fresh report published by U.K. trade body Pact, the organization that reps and promotes the interests of producers.

The report, entitled U.K. Television Exports Survey 2011, puts total revenue from the international sale of British TV programs and associated activities at £1.48 billion ($2.4 billion) last year, up from £1.36  billion ($2.2 billion) in 2010.

Pact's report noted that the market place posted a "stand-out rise in exports to newer markets" such as Turkey, South Africa and the Middle East.

Traditionally lucrative territories for U.K. TV fair such as the U.S. and Australia remain strong.

Sales to the U.S., the U.K.'s largest export market, grew by six percent, to £555 million ($895 million) while Australasia snapped up £164 million ($264.6 million), an 11 percent increase from 2010's tally.

North America represented 43% of total export revenue for the U.K. in 2011, with Europe contributing 29% and Rest of World 28%.

In line with last year, sales of finished programming in North America made up a smaller proportion of total revenue than both Europe and Rest of World.

And the report also notes that the growth of Netflix, Hulu and other VOD operators helped grow the export market with factual and drama providing the most sought after types of programming from British shores.

The British government's U.K. Trade and Investment organization, which backed the report's commission and publication, said with all eyes on the U.K. this summer after the London 2012 Olympics and the Paralympics, the time was write for producers to piggy back on the success.

UKTI chief executive Nick Baird said: "The opportunities for exporting content are out there.  Now is the time to show fast-growing overseas economies that British-made television is truly world class."

The report is published to arm British sellers with confidence as the annual international television market MIPCOM swings into force this week.

With shows such as Doctor Who, Sherlock and Frozen Planet flying off BBC Worldwide's sales shelves, the public broadcaster's commercial arm is in buoyant mood.

BBC Worldwide president and managing director, sales and distribution Steve Macallister said: "This report clearly confirms what most of us have known for some time, that the UK creative sector is producing some of the best shows in the world. The whole industry should be proud of these terrific results from Pact."

Exports of finished TV programming are the U.K.’s largest source of TV revenue – income rose 18% to £701 million ($1.1 billion), the report indicates.

"It is positive that USA sales continue to rise and growth in Australasia revenues have cemented its position as the U.K.’s second biggest export market," said Pact chief executive John McVay. "Content remains king - it’s clear that it’s the British creativity and quality that continues to drive our exports success."