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October 2017
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Reports&
surveys

Production 100 2012 Back to Reports & survey Listing

Indies reveal the distribution companies they like to work with when they want to sell their programmes into international markets

The British television industry has become much more international in outlook in recent years.

Producers have made very healthy returns by selling formats created in the UK into global markets, particularly the US. And with budgets under pressure at home, producers have also turned to international markets to help plug programme budget shortfalls. It all means that indies rely more heavily than ever on distributors – both to raise funds and to bolster income with international sales of completed shows. As this year’s Production 100 reveals, the average indie derived 12% of its total turnover from rights exploitation – up on last year’s 11.6%.

Most of the larger superindies have their own inhouse distribution outfits to sell their programmes. But plenty of mid-sized and smaller indies tend to work with a variety of distributors. This distributor poll picks out which those companies are. As part of the Production 100, we ask indies which distributors they use – and also to tell us which companies they rate and to explain their thinking.

It’s a worthwhile exercise because, clearly, distributors are viewed with a mixture of suspicion and affection by producers.  Several indies hit out at the distribution sector. There’s a feeling that, as economic times are tough, distributors are holding on to producer’s cash for longer than they need to. “Receiving money and statements on time is a pretty widespread problem across all distribution companies,” says one indie. Other indies suspect that distributors don’t work their shows that hard but simply bury them in their back catalogue.

And the cost of working with the wrong distributor can be high. Target Entertainment, for example, went into administration in February, creating major financial problems for many producers with shows represented by the distributor.

That said, indies can be very positive about distributors they like.  Just as it did last year, BBC Worldwide garned the ‘most used’ and ‘most rated’ votes amongst indies.  The corporation’s commercial division is admired for its “huge reach” and “contacts” around the world. “BBC Worldwide provide us with good market intelligence and are excellent at raising co-funding,” reports one indie. Others praise BBC Worldwide’s “ability to help find co-production partners” and for doing “good business” on dramas. Indies also cite its “excellent” communication skills. And indies seem to think that it is “supportive” too. “Over the years, we have developed a strong relationship with them,” reports one.

Zodiak Rights, meanwhile, takes second place – the same as last year. Adjectives used to describe the distributor formerly known as RDF Rights include “honest”, “professional”, “efficient”, “on the ball”, “responsive” and “helpful”. One indie reports: “We received a great advance from them and it felt like they really backed the series and did their best to sell it. They were incredibly flexible and understanding of the difficult nature of the series and were happy to adapt their terms to make it work.” Another producer likes Zodiak because “they are very easy to deal with and report on a regular basis.”

ITV Studios Global Entertainment comes third in the most used poll, again the same spot as last year. The broadcaster’s distribution arm is noted by one indie for “good people, good leverage and strong commercial nous.” ITV Global is “truly international, pays attention to client contact and is involved from early stages,” is the opinion of another producer. “They understand our company and our programmes, they support our strategy and take commercial and wider aspects into consideration,” reports one drama producer.

In fourth place is DRG, climbing one spot. According to one indie, DRG is “proactive, creative, hardworking, introduces us to contacts and looks hard for co-producers on our behalf.” Another producer, who professes to be sceptical about distributors, says she “rates DRG the most.”

Next up is Passion Distribution, in fifth – the same as last year. As its name suggest, the distributor – and particularly boss Sally Miles – really does have ardent fans among sections of the indie community. Asked for his most rated distributor, one factual indie says: “Only Sally Miles at Passion. The rest in my experience don’t care and you get buried in their back catalogue immediately.” Another comments: “Sally Miles is an outstanding figure in the industry working hard and passionately for the production companies that she represents. Highly motivated sales team, good reporting systems and great branding and marketing materials. Ability to close sales across all international territories.”

TVF is in sixth place, cited for being “passionate and enthusiastic about the films they promote” and for being “quick to respond.” Electric Sky comes next, picked out for its “friendly, helpful and impressive” sales team that “knows the international market well.”

In joint eighth place is Fremantlemedia Enterprises, Cineflix and All3Media International. Fremantle is picked out for its “very strong sales”, Cineflix for being “excellent with an aggressive sales approach” and All3Media “gives the most comfort that monetisation of your rights will be maximised and not lost in a catalogue.”

Which distributors do indies use?
Based on indie responses to the question in the Production 100 survey, “which distributor handles your international programme sales.
1. BBC Worldwide
2. Zodiak Rights
3. ITV Studios Global Entertainment
4. DRG
5. Passion Distribution
6. TVF International
7. Electric Sky
8= All3Media International
8= Cineflix
8= Fremantlemedia Enterprises

Which distributors do indies rate?
Based on indie responses to the question in the Production 100 survey, “which distributor do you rate?

1. BBC Worldwide a
2. ITV Studios Global Entertainment
3= DRG
3= Zodiak Rights
5. Passion Distribution 6. TVF International
7. Sony International
8= Electric Sky
8=All3Media International
8=Cineflix

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