Global TV boom boosts AFMA exports

Films, TV shows brought in $2.8 bil

Fueled by the ongoing boom in the worldwide TV biz and significant growth in its membership, exports of movies and TV shows by American Film Market Assn. companies grew an impressive 22% in 1999 to $2.8 billion.

The revenue numbers were gathered through an annual member survey conducted by KPMG for AFMA, the 19-year-old trade association that reps indie film and TV companies from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., continental Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Rim.

For the eighth consecutive year, TV drove AFMA member company revenues, increasing 38% to just over $1.29 billion. Membership in AFMA embraces film players such as Miramax and New Line, TV companies like King World, NBC and Saban, and foreign firms like Britain’s Carlton and Hong Kong’s Golden Harvest.

The booming overseas TV biz accounted for nearly 71% of the total sales increase of $505 million. Theatrical and video markets also showed new life, posting 12% and 9% sales growth to $793 million and $701 million, respectively.

“We are extremely pleased that our members continue to increase their sales to television,” said AFMA prexy Jean Prewitt. “The worldwide proliferation of terrestrial and pay-TV channels has created an increasing demand for product tailored to specific, diverse audiences.”

As measured by the survey, an increase in the number of AFMA members also accounts for a significant portion of the 1999 uptick. A total of 138 companies were counted, up 13% (16 companies) from 1998. These additional members boosted 1999 revenues by more than 8%.

“This year’s result shows that not only do our members continue to produce product that is in demand, but that the association is able to attract strong, stable companies with the wherewithal to compete internationally,” said Kathy Morgan, AFMA’s chairman.

Western forefront

Once again, Western Europe provided AFMA members with the lion’s share of their total revenues. The region’s total of $1.7 billion in 1999 was up more than 35% from the previous year. TV sales to Western Europe accounted for 70% of that expansion. Seven of the top 10 sales territories are in fact on the Euro continent.

For the third year in a row, Germany was the top sales territory for AFMA companies, leading member sales in each media. Revenues from the Teutonic territory hit $474 million.

Italy, which posted solid gains in theatrical and TV revenues (57% and 37%, respectively) moved up to No. 2, providing nearly $319 million. But the largest revenue growth in the region was made in Spain, where member income — again mainly due to TV — grew 82% to just under $300 million.

The sole cloud on the Western European horizon appeared over the U.K., where member sales declined 11% to $175 million.

Asian upswing

After two years of declining fortunes, member sales in Asia climbed by 33% to $544 million.

Korea was the star of the show, with AFMA member income soaring by 110% to $107 million. The territory jumped to seventh place in the top 10 rankings after falling into the 11th spot in 1998.

Japan also moved up smartly (17%), recording sales of $272 million. Major gains were recorded in theatrical (43%) and television (14%). The Japanese video market, however, slipped marginally (down 2%).

The 1999 AFMA membership sales survey measured the licensing of feature film and TV product in 33 territories for the calendar year. Among the films and shows that contributed to the growth were “American Pie,” “Baywatch,” “An Ideal Husband,” “Magnolia,” “American Psycho” “Lord of the Rings” and “The Blair Witch Project.” The figures also include pre-sales on movies that have not yet been released.

Some 50% of the AFMA membership replied to this year’s survey; the total revenue numbers are statistical extrapolations to reflect the performance of the entire membership of AFMA.

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