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British Television Exports Rise 10% to $1.66 Billion

Annual British television exports rose 10% to £1.33 billion ($1.66 billion), according to newly released research. Sales of digital rights were up 79%, with streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon becoming major buyers of U.K. shows.

Among the top-selling shows were “Sherlock,” “Doctor Who” and “The X Factor,” as well as foreign-language series represented by British sales companies, such as Germany’s “Deutschland 83,” according to “UK TV Exports Report 2015-2016.” The report was released by British producers’ association PACT, ITV Studios and BBC Worldwide. Figures are for April 2015 to March 2016, and have been compared with the preceding 12 months.

Sales to the U.S., which remains the U.K.’s largest export market, increased by 16% to £497 million ($624 million). Australia is the second-largest market, with sales of £106 million ($133 million). Exports to France grew 5% to £73 million ($91.6 million), making it Britain’s biggest non-English-speaking market and its third biggest overall.

North America represented 41% of total export revenue, with Europe accounting for 31% and the rest of the world 29%.

Sales to China were up 40% to £23 million ($28.9 million). Deals included the acquisition by China’s CCTV of “Thunderbirds Are Go” from ITV Studios. Trade with China is likely to rise further after the U.K. and China inked a co-production treaty in December.

Revenue from Japan represented the greatest percentage increase, rising 48% to £15 million ($18.8 million).

Exports of finished television programming remained the largest source of revenue at £668 million ($839 million), on a par with the previous year. But format sales fell 17% to £46 million ($57.7 million).

The survey highlighted the increasing importance of digital rights, particularly on streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon. Sales of digital rights increased 79% to £248 million ($311 million), making it the second-largest source of TV revenue and a contributor of almost one fifth of total revenue. Companies surveyed “believe that there is further opportunity for growth from this area,” the report said.

The U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union poses a potential threat to the business. “Economic and political uncertainty, particularly in Europe, was seen by respondents to the report as one of the obstacles to further growth next year,” the report said.

PACT CEO John McVay said: “U.K. television content continues to be highly sought after around the world. 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. However, with Brexit on the horizon, continued support from the government will be crucial if we are to ensure that U.K. companies can carry on punching above their weight on the world stage.”

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