We have been active internationally for well over a decade, and it’s been an essential element in our overall business strategy. Financially, for some shows it’s the only way you are going to get them made, for others it makes them significantly more profitable, whether as formats or finished programs. And creatively it has opened up exciting new opportunities by allowing us to be more ambitious editorially.
The producer/distributor relationship has always been crucial, and we may be unique in our experience of having tried every possible permutation. Initially, we built our co-finance business hand-in-hand with Itel, an independent distributor, then continued to work with them when they became Granada International and also worked with C4I and BBC Worldwide – all broadcaster distributors. We set up our own in-house distribution operation in 2003, partly to coincide with the new terms of trade in the UK, which was a real success for us. Now we have joined the Shed group and work closely with our sister company, Outright.
That breadth and depth internationally is rather unusual for a producer, and so there has been a mutual benefit in the relationship with Outright, with both of us bringing contacts and experience to the table – a real plus given how fluid and dynamic the international marketplace is. Our take on the digital elements of the international marketplace is that it’s still early days. Our business is still based on linear programming, but there is no doubt that if you have a show with multi-platform potential, then it can only increase your chances of a sale.