It would appear to be no coincidence that BBC Worldwide’s (BBCW) July 2007-appointed managing director, global television sales, and manager of the BBC Showcase event, is Steve Macallister, former head of Disney-ABC International TV’s distribution business in the Asia Pacific region. Two Asia Pacific markets, Australia and India, are classified among only four Group One priority markets for growth in BBCW’s Annual Review 2006/7. “In markets where English is widely spoken, (eg USA, India, Australia, Canada), significant investment is planned to build a more substantial scale across all six (BBCW) businesses in all these territories,” says the report. The Australia contingent at BBC Showcase included ABC, Network Ten, Nine Network Australia and Seven Network. As for India, BBCW had no direct sales there before 2000. “In a market where 95% of the content is locally produced, we are currently the strongest UK distributor,” explains Monisha Shah, director emerging markets, EMEIA. “Our (factual) business started with sale of one title in 2000 – Walking with Dinosaurs – and currently includes a wide and diverse list including Madhur Jaffrey’s Flavours of India, Wildlife Specials, Genghis Khan, Hannibal and blue chip titles such as Blue Planet and Planet Earth. Similarly, we had no children’s business in India before 2000. We licensed one title, Teletubbies, in 2001 to terrestrial broadcaster, Doordarshan and its… success meant that within two years, 80% of our children’s catalogue was licensed into India.” China is amongst the Group Two territories, defined as, “Very high growth markets, where the company is not yet committing on a major scale (where) BBCW will pursue specific initiatives, such as channel launches or local productions, as opportunities arise.” And in Group Three countries like Japan, BBCW plans to ensure growth at the rate of GDP. In 2006/07, 46% of BBCW’s total revenues came from overseas, up from 41% in 2005/06. The company plans to raise that proportion to around two-thirds by 2012. Year on year, rest of the world sales grew 4.9%, with profit rising 26.9% to 8.5million UK pounds (US$16.8million). Measured in local currency, sales grew by 20% in Asia’s emerging markets and 36% in Japan. In a shift from its traditional factual acquisition habits, Japan’s biggest broadcaster NHK picked up four BBC Worldwide titles: Hustle, Hotel Babylon, State Within and State of Play. BBC Worldwide Japan Limited’s manager programme sales Miyuki Kinoshita admitted that the opportunity for sales of non-factual genres to NHK arose from the WGA Writers’ Strike – which has since been resolved. And, as part of British Year in Japan, LaLa TV picked up a range of BBC dramas including Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Jane Eyre and Bleak House. Indeed, the ‘boots and bonnets’ of British period drama proved popular fare, with Cranford sold to seven broadcasters in seven markets and the new adaptation of Oliver Twist sold to seven broadcasters including into Dubai and India. Andrew Davies’ 2007 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility was snapped up by 11 international broadcasters a well as the accompanying Miss Austen Regrets. Matt Forde, BBCW’s director of investment at BBC Worldwide, said that the popularity of period drama on the international market this year shows that Britain is still viewed as one of the best producers of quality adaptations. “Familiar titles like Dickens’ Oliver Twist can be successfully adapted so that they appeal to a contemporary audience and still remain fresh. More unrecognisable literature such as Cranford proved that there is a market for new, innovative period drama.” But does BBC Worldwide need to move away from its reputation as mainly a provider of factual entertainment and period drama? Macallister says that he prefers to think of his job at BBC Worldwide as distributing “the best of British content. Not all of our content from the BBC, around one third is from the independent sector and includes shows that have aired on ITV.” Macallister, explain that the UK currently only accounts for 10% of the finished product sales market worldwide, compared to the 70% of sales emanating from the US. “We should take a leaf out of the US’ book,” he says, alluding to his fourteen year stint with Disney, “in establishing and exploiting global franchises. We are synonymous with producing the best natural history, the best factual and the best period dramas – but we could be better at marketing our shows and building better properties.” That said, Macallister points out that BBCW already has its own ‘superbrands’ like Planet Earth; Teletubbies and its successor from Ragdoll Entertainment In the Night Garden; and Doctor Who. Drama hits on sale at BBC Showcase 2008 included Mistresses, Life on Mars sequel Ashes to Ashes, Primeval Series 1 and 2, The Fixer and Messiah: The Rapture. Indeed BBC dramas appear to be taking off in Korea, where BBCW Asia’s senior TV manager Linfield Ng has secured a slew of deals. KBS, BBCW’s biggest client in Korea, has added the likes of Mistresses, series three of Doctor Who, and Diana – Last Days of a Princess, to previous buys Primeval and Robin Hood. OBS will air Bodies, while The Office and Extras have been sold to Fox Life in Korea. Drama shows, including Miss Austen Regrets, Sense and Sensibility, Frankenstein, and factual fare like Michael Palin’s New Europe, A Year in Tibet and India with Sanjeev Bhaskar have been sold to EBS. More IPTV deals have been signed with both MegaPass TV and HANA TV, amounting to over 80 hours of content ranging from kids fare Teletubbies, Fimbles and Spot, to music programming Aida and Carmen, and docudrama Supervolcano. Top Gear has launched on Q Channel and Fox’s male-skewed FX. And the first series of Primeval debuted on CJ Media’s CGV Channel, beating out rival channel OCN. The show garnered 6% share with a 1.4 rating at launch, rising to a 1.7 rating and 7% share at season-end. That time-slot’s rating on the channel averages 1 to 1.2. As for Steve Macallister’s strategy moving forward, he told Television Asia Plus that the major changes implemented thus far have been the appointments of senior vice president and general manager Asia, Joyce Yeung and vice president research for global TV sales Stella Creasey. A senior vice president appointment for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) is also on the cards. And BBC Showcase’s full digitization this year meant all 550 delegates had their own private ‘digi-booths’ offering all buyers a bespoke video on demand service, allowing them to give instant feedback on programming they viewed and significantly improve BBC Worldwide’s sales analysis at the event. Around 1,000 hours of content were expected to be viewed. This move is part of a wider global TV sales strategy to future-proof its content and delivery capabilities by digitizing its catalogue. Already, over 5,000 hours of programming have been digitized – five times the amount this time last year, when 100 buyers took part in digi-booth trials. Explained Macallister, “This is another example of how we are investing heavily in becoming a tape-free business. We aim to digitize all current and back catalogue in order to protect quality and improve delivery across a wider range of devices. Our new digi-booths bring a whole new level of sophistication to the event that enables us to tailor Showcase viewing to each buyer individually.” BBCW proved reluctant to share buyers’ viewing habits, or the most-viewed content over the four-day Showcase period, although BBCW’s chief executive John Smith announced that Wild China had been the “second-most viewed” program as of the end of Showcase’s second day. A China-themed gala dinner was held to celebrate Wild China, a 6 x 50’ natural history series, which has its official launch in Beijing April 2008, hosted by co-producers CTV and BBCW. The BBC/CTV/Travel Channel co-production in association with Canal+ has been sold into over 50 countries thus far. China Television Media’s Xiaoping Gao and Jingming Wang were in attendance, with Gao thanking everyone for all their hard work on the show, “We wish for everyone to know China better,” he said – especially in the run-up to the Beijing Olympiad commencing 08.08.08. Hong Kong’s TVB has acquired Wild China from BBCW, to air it on English-language TVB Pearl in standard definition, then on HD Jade in high definition. TVB also recently picked up drama titles such as Jekyll, Primeval season 2 and Hotel Babylon series 3; natural history titles Life in Cold Blood and Natural World; science fare Earth – The Power of the Planet; kids titles Charlie and Lola and Freefonix. Other programming highlights this year included natural history titles such as David Attenborough’s Life… series’ swansong, Life in Cold Blood and new comedy titles Never Better and Gavin and Stacey. Science fare included Moonshot, which celebrates the 40th anniversary of the lunar landing, as well as Oceans and Earth, The Power of the Planet which uses latest production techniques and dramatic narrative to explain the history of our planet. And while global TV sales is ostensibly a content sales division, Macallister says there is also a steadily growing formats division. International executive producer Duncan Cooper is part of the three-person team offering format consultancy and support to formats like Strictly Come Dancing, known in this part of the world as Dancing with the Stars. The show has been produced in China, Japan and India – the first Asian market to produce a local version of scripted formats Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister. BBC Worldwide has also been developing its own formats, with the first ever in-house game-show format, How Much Is Enough?, airing on US channel, GSN in January. Other formats on offer at Showcase this year include The Weakest Link’s BBC2 replacement quiz show Brainbox and BBC3’s search for the next Kate Moss, Find me the Face. The scripted formats catalogue includes dramas Life on Mars, Afterlife, Cutting It and Hotel Babylon, as well as comedies The Office, Extras and Only Fools and Horses. The final word on formats goes to BBCW’s managing director content and production, Wayne Garvie, “Dancing with the Stars has boosted the fortunes of broadcasters around the world. With our new team and strategy in place, we are confident we will identify and develop a continuing stream of such breakthrough hits.” Concludes Macallister, “It’s about time Britain took a bigger share of the global pie. There is far more on offer in our drama arena, and there’s no reason why the next global media superbrand can’t come out of the UK.”