UK television exports defied the global recession in 2009, rising by 9% thanks to strong format and programme sales, according to new research.
The annual UK TV Exports Survey, carried out for UK independent producers' trade body Pact, reported British programmes achieved overseas sales worth £1.3bn (US$2.1bn) last year.
Demand for UK formats rose by 25%, earning the country's prodcos £119m, while revenue from producing UK formats abroad increased by 124% to £41m.
Sales of finished programming - the UK's largest source of TV income - accounted for 43% of the total revenue increase, rising 10% to £549m. Exports to the US rose 3% to £485m. Growth in sales to Australia and New Zealand exceeded those to any other territory for the second year running, rising by 32% and reaching £170m.
Antipodean versions of shows such as Top Gear and Shine's MasterChef have proved popular, with the latter setting a record for Australia's most-watched non-sport show to date.
North America remains the UK's biggest export market, accounting for 41% of total export revenues in 2009, followed by Europe on 29% and the rest of world on 30%.
Chris Bonney, MD of Outright Distribution and a Pact council member, said: "2009 was one of the toughest years for the media industry, so to see an increase in exports is testament to the popularity of British shows all around the world.
"For independent producers, these revenues are increasingly important as the domestic market gets squeezed by reductions in the broadcasters' production budgets, and have contributed to the sector investing over £200m in new programmes each year."
The survey was collated by independent consultancy TRP for Pact and sponsored by UK Trade and Investment, ITV and BBC Worldwide
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