MIPCOM: Demand for UK television shows abroad has increased 5% over the past 12 months, fuelled by growing sales in the US and China.

Pact’s annual UK Television Exports Survey found that total TV programming sales were worth £1.28bn in 2013, compared to £1.22bn in 2012.

China was the largest growth market with a 40% boost in this period, taking total sales to £17m in 2014, compared with £12m last year. This meant that the country overtook Holland and Spain, which both acquired £16m of UK content respectively.

All3Media was one of the main drivers of business in China, with Objective format The Cube and Zoo Productions’ Are You Normal? helping the super-indie make inroads. China is also fond of Carnival Films drama Downton Abbey.

Objective managing director Paul Sandler said China is the fastest growing and largest untapped market for UK businesses. “They still have a real hunger for Western formats and techniques and that represents an enormous opportunity,” he added.

The US remained the biggest home for British programming, taking £523m worth of content in 2014 - up 10% on last year.

Other notable territories included France, which saw a 21% rise to £37m, and Poland, which was also up 21% to £11m. However, Australasia - the second biggest market for UK content - saw a 10% drop in sales to £95m.

Digital rights were also up 72% to £49m as distributors targeted the likes of Netflix and Amazon, while format sales were up 17% to £48m.

UK the ‘envy of the world’

“The report shows that UK television productions remain among the most highly regarded and sought after globally,” Pact chief executive John McVay said of the findings, released to coincide with Mipcom in Cannes this week.

“The year-on-year growth we’ve seen is a reflection of the sector’s ability to continually innovate and attract new markets and we should feel extremely proud that UK content is the envy of the world.”

BBC Worldwide reported that big-budget dramas including Atlantis and The Musketeers helped drive growth.

“We’re not always the best at celebrating our successes in this country so this survey is a timely reminder that viewers in Shanghai or Seattle are just as likely to be talking about great British shows like Sherlock and Luther as commentators here are to be talking about the latest US TV blockbuster,” said BBC Worldwide’s president of global markets Paul Dempsey.

Meanwhile, ITV Studios Global Entertainment pointed to dramas such as Mr Selfridge and evergreen formats, including I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! and Come Dine With Me, as boosting its bottom line.

“The UK production industry is hugely creative and the emergence of new markets and platforms worldwide is a fantastic opportunity for new international audiences to enjoy the very best programming that the UK has to offer,” said managing director Maria Kyriacou.