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Disney, Warner Bros and Worldwide head European distributor table

A new report places Disney and Warner Bros as the largest distributors of TV programming in Europe and BBC Worldwide the largest non-US content seller.

UK-based Content Economics estimates the TV distribution market in Europe was worth $4.7 billion last year. The price of acquired content plummeted during the recession, it added, although the outlook for distributors is broadly positive.

Warner Bros has fared well through having a strong supply of new programmes. “Warner Bros, with its rumoured $500 million annual pilot budget find, typically has almost twice the number of new programmes to sell each season than any other studio,” Content Economics notes.

BBC Worldwide heads, by some distance, the list of European distributors, which is dominated by companies based in the UK. “The UK’s dominance is, among other factors, because most of the largeEuropean producer-distributors have their distribution operations based in London,” the report states.

Meanwhile, Content Economics notes that the increasing cost of producing content and continued pressure on budgets mean that distribution revenues are now ‘must have’ instead of ‘nice to have’.

“There is a general trend towards new production business plans requiring an estimate of the secondary revenues before they are signed off,” note the report authors. “American producers have long sought to sell their programming internationally but this long-standing perspective is somewhat unique. And, that said, it is only recently that international distribution revenues have moved from ‘nice-to-have’ into the ‘must have’ territory for American producers because of the rising production costs of premium dramas.”