Cherie Howie

Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Kiwi TV taking on the world

Outrageous Fortune is being watched in Croatia, Slovenia and Italy. Photo / Supplied
Outrageous Fortune is being watched in Croatia, Slovenia and Italy. Photo / Supplied

Our dogs are being watched in Liechtenstein and Russia. In Macedonia, they're tuning in to our girls. And our Westies are now out east on TV screens in Slovenia and Croatia.

Scores of Kiwi-made TV shows are being watched overseas, enquiries by the Herald on Sunday have revealed.

And it's a big bucks business - TV exports pumped $37 million into the country in 2010/11, according to Statistics New Zealand.

Among those taking the Kiwi accent and way of life to the world include Go Girls - on screen in Macedonia, Bosnia and Ukraine and Outrageous Fortune, in Croatia, Slovenia and Italy.

TVNZ licensing general manager Leigh Wilson said demand for Kiwi shows was on the rise.

Canine agility show Wonder Dogs has been snapped up by broadcasters in Russia and Liechtenstein, said Wilson.

Demand in eastern Europe had become insatiable.

"The whole market has opened up, there's more channels, they've got more money to spend. They're absolutely hungry for it."

South Pacific Pictures chief executive John Barnett said many Kiwi shows were bought for daytime and off-peak viewing in Europe, where they provided a point of difference to the "cops and docs" heavy offerings from the United States and Australia.

"You don't find the likes of an Outrageous Fortune or Go Girls on offer anywhere else in the world."

He agreed that sales were on the up.

"Ten years ago buyers would say, 'I don't want a programme from New Zealand' ... now it's considered to be on par with Australian and Canadian product, " said Barnett.

The increase in channels, particularly niche, equalled more opportunities for Kiwi shows.

"The Almighty Johnsons playing on a genre channel like SyFy in the UK and Sci Fi in Australia is an example of this."

Eyeworks chief executive Julie Christie said "character driven shows" such as Matthew and Mark's Rocky Road were hot.

"Networks are making a shift to male programming or broader humour genres."

Anything house or food related also sold well as most countries had their own lifestyle pay channels, and both themes were universal so language was not a barrier.

Australian interest in Kiwi content had soared in the past five years, said Christie.

"Almost everything we make now sells into Australia."

Greenstone TV general manager Bryan Hall said the The Zoo alone had been sold to 90 countries. "I had an email once from someone watching The Zoo in Patagonia."

Where shows were going was not the real story, it was the impact those sales had on boosting New Zealand's TV production industry, said Hall

"That income stream allows independent producers to stay afloat.

"The result was a better product, and more of it. As a little country we punch really hard for our weight, because we are good at what we do."

- Herald on Sunday

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