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BBC Worldwide sells over 670 hours of content

MUMBAI: A raft of British drama sales has been announced at BBC Worldwide Showcase 2014 which takes place till 26 February. 725 of the world’s top TV buyers have arrived at Liverpool to screen the best of British content. BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of UK pubcaster the BBC, has sold over 670 hours of drama including ‘Atlantis’, ‘Luther’, ‘Sherlock’ and ‘A Young Doctor’s Notebook’ to broadcasters around the world.

The growing demand for British content in Asia has seen China become the third country, after Russia and the UK, to premiere ‘Sherlock Series 3’. On 2 January 2014, Youku, a prominent internet portal in China, received 49 million hits for the first episode and BesTV, the pioneer in IPTV in China, received a viewership of 1.7 million for the series in the month of January. Japan’s Wowow has licensed ‘A Young Doctor’s Notebook’, ‘Fleming’ and the third season of the detective series ‘DCI Banks’ while Japanese state broadcaster NHK has bought the third season of ‘Sherlock’ and ‘Unlocking Sherlock’.

More British crime dramas find a home in Japan with AXN Mystery picking up the second seasons of ‘Father Brown’, ‘Ripper Street’ and the third season of ‘Death in Paradise’. Meanwhile, KBS of South Korea has snapped up ‘Atlantis’ and over in Hong Kong, ‘A Young Doctor’s Notebook’, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm, has been sold by BBC Worldwide to the main terrestrial broadcaster TVB.

BBC Worldwide president global markets Paul Dempsey said, “In the last five years, and more recently in Asia, we’ve seen a significant increase in sales of British drama overseas, partly fuelled by the overwhelming success of titles such as ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Sherlock’. Buyers are realising that UK content can really provide an alternative to US fare as audiences recognise the quality of British dramas for their high production values, unique British culture and humour, as well as the creative ideas.”

‘Atlantis’ will air in Australia on Foxtel’s Fox8 channel. Closer home, BBC Worldwide has sold two series of ‘Call the Midwife’ to French channel D8 and has concluded drama package deals with Italian broadcasters Mediaset and Rai. Mediaset will be premiering ‘Sherlock’ (Series 1–3), ‘The Paradise’ and ‘Call the Midwife’ to Italian audiences in a package which saw them buy over 200 hours of drama content from BBC Worldwide. Elsewhere on Rai, ‘Luther’ Series 1–3 will air on the main free-to-air channel in Italy for the first time, along with ‘Misfits’ season 5. Portugal’s commercial channel Zon has picked up ‘Burton and Taylor’, ‘Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond’ and ‘A Young Doctor’s Notebook’, along with a raft of other titles totalling 22 hours. Germany’s Degeto will be airing the third season of ‘Sherlock’, ‘The Challenger’ and ‘Quirke’.

Eastern and Central Europe and the Middle East have also been busy buying up a huge range of British content. Russia’s Domashny channel has acquired 63 hours of drama including ‘Ripper Street’, ‘The Paradise’ and ‘Luther’, and BBC Worldwide has concluded its first fiction package deal with Georgia’s Imedi.

Further south, ‘Atlantis’ and ‘Burton and Taylor’ have gone to Turkey’s NTV while Greek pay TV platform OTE has bought a package including all three series of ‘Luther’ and ‘Atlantis’. Hot in Israel has signed up for drama titles including ‘Fleming’ and ‘Sherlock’, and the Tardis travels to the Middle East as Al Jazeera Children’s Channel snaps up the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special ‘The Day of the Doctor’, the eight season of that show and the Doctor Who Christmas 2013 special ‘The Time of the Doctor’.