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Television programmes are incredibly expensive to make. With increasing number of competing channels, it is up to the networks to decide what programmes they look to commission and whether they buy programming from other sources. It is also increasingly difficult to come up with new formats and ideas for programming, which has led to successful programming formats being bought and sold by networks to ensure big audiences for their channels.

A good idea can cross both cultural and language barriers and become a successful show in a variety of places around the world.

What the World Watches
Shows that have done well in other countries include some of those with the highest ratings here in the UK, including the ever popular Strictly Come Dancing series and Britain’s Got Talent. The success that these formats have had in other countries has shown that ideas for shows can be big earners for the UK market and television industry.

One of the bigger winners in the group is game shows, a relatively low cost set-up that like a board game can become massive.

Merchandise from television shows has cropped up at the top of many Christmas lists, from Doctor who talking helmets, to the popular Deal or No Deal board game.

So who else are big players in the global television economy?

The UK has exported over £485 million worth of programming to the USA, which accounts for 41% of sales of UK programmes, making the USA a key customer of the British television industry.

The traditional and much loved soap Coronation Street is shown in 40 countries around the world, with a little help from subtitling making it a worldwide favourite. It even reached the top spot in Canada as the most watched soap opera!

Another show that is popular in its own right is Top Gear, for which one of the presenters, Jeremy Clarkson, owns a vast majority of the format rights. The UK version of Top Gear airs in over 100 countries worldwide and has spawned its own versions in many other countries, including Germany, whose hosts made a guest appearance in a special UK episode.

Do We Need New Ideas?
So, is that fact that we are constantly borrowing and adapting other countries programming stunting the development of new programmes? I don’t think so. Admittedly, formulaic programmes such as Big Brother can get annoying, but quality speaks for itself when it comes to television and it is ultimately the viewing figures that will decide whether a programme is successful or not in the eyes of the network.

So, have you got any new ideas for TV shows? Or perhaps you can think of a show that you have seen abroad that you would like to see where you live?

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Gavin Harvey is a fitness fanatic that is into TV in a big way. When he’s not working he likes to watch his extensive collection of classic films. He’s also an avid writer and currently blogs for Softel subtitling.