BBC attracts sales heat at showcase

Deals begin to flow as new media buyers flock to event

LONDON — LONDON – BBC Showcase, the Beeb’s annual four day program market, got off to a strong start Monday, with news of a raft of sales to New Zealand and plenty of buzz surrounding the influx of new attendees from digital media platforms.

Of the 560 program buyers attending the event, held each year in the British seaside town of Brighton, around 100 have turned up to secure content for new distribution platforms, and sales to VOD and mobile operators look set to result in another strong year of growth for BBC Worldwide, the corporation’s commercial arm.

“That business has grown over the year,” said Mark Young, managing director of BBC Worldwide global TV sales. “It’s still a relatively small figure but we’re now selling in the millions of pounds.”

Combined with continuing growth in emerging territories like Eastern Europe and Asia, as well as the success of flagship brands like “Doctor Who” in more mature markets, that trend looks set to drive BBC Worldwide’s TV sales to around £190 million ($373 million) for this financial year, up from last year’s figure of $336 million.

“We feel as we’ve outgrown the market every year for the last four or five years,” said Young.

Deals confirmed so far this week include the first international sale of new children’s property “In the Night Garden,” from “Teletubbies” producer Ragdoll, to New Zealand’s TVNZ, which also picked up the first two series of Tiger Aspect’s BBC2 comedy “The Catherine Tate Show” and new sitcom “Fear, Stress and Anger,” from Hartswood Films.

Other new shows getting a big push at the market include BBC1’s “Jekyll,” a modern take on the Robert Louis Stevenson classic, also from Hartswood, as well as “Superstorm,” a big budget thriller about a hurricane that threatens to hit New York, and Jennifer Saunders latest comedy “The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle.”

The BBC also used the event to announce that Worldwide has retained the international distribution rights for all horse-racing from Ascot, including the prestigious Royal Ascot event.

In 2006, racing from Ascot was licensed to 33 markets, including India, Japan, the Middle East and the U.S.

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