China was the biggest growth market for UK programming last year with revenues up 90%, according to new research by UKTI and Pact.

The annual UK Television Exports Survey, which was commissioned by UKTI and Pact and carried out by Television Research Partnership, shows that revenue from British programming in China now stands at £12m per year, making it the fasting growing source of international business for producers and distributors. This was compared to £6.5m in 2011.

The figures form part of a wider growth story for UK programming around the world - with annual sales worth £1.22bn, up 4% from last year’s £1.18bn.

Asia has become one of the most important sources of business for British firms, with business in India up 42% to £6.1m and Indonesian sales up 81% to £1.2m.

US domination

The US remains by far the most important country for British television, with revenues up by 11% to £475m, over £300m more than the second biggest market, Australia, which has seen slight declines from £104m to £103m.

The US growth has been led by series such as Downton Abbey, which performed well on PBS, and distribution of Broadchurch, which is also being remade by Fox, on BBC America.

Smaller networks such as Ovation are also heavily investing in UK content, acquiring series such as Sky Arts’ A Young Doctor’s Notebook.

“The continued growth in exports to the USA is pleasing and the dramatic increase in sales to China is surely a sign of major developments to come. TV producers in the UK are innovative – they have established the sector among the most successful and influential of the UK’s creative industries,” said Pact chief executive John McVay.

International productions and new commissions rose 20% this year, largely as a result of the boom in US cable programming, with networks regularly ordering series from UK indies.

Global coproductions also made huge gains this year, up 60%, with international broadcasters keen to get British partners on board with factual, drama and kids programming.

Digital sales grew by 51% bolstered by the explosion of VoD services such as Netflix and Hulu.

Canada and Germany are other key territories, with sales to Canada experiencing a small fall and German business displaying growth. Other growth markets include Central and Eastern Europe, which saw sales rise 25% to £33m, Brazil, with a 21% rise to £2.7m and Latin America with a 24% increase to £32m.

“From the smaller digital creative enterprises through to the major production companies who produce some of the world’s best known TV programmes, the UK continues to show that nobody does it better when it comes to fresh ideas for quality entertainment,” added Nick Baird, chief executive of UK Trade & Investment.