Television

BBC Worldwide, Opus Arte sign 10 million deal

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LONDON: BBC Worldwide, the commercial consumer arm of the British Broadcasting Corporation, and Opus Arte, the Anglo-Dutch multimedia company and a leading player in the classical music, opera and ballet DVD market, have announced a new nine-year agreement for investment, production and distribution of classical music, dance and selected arts programming covering international TV, DVD and video sales.



The joint venture represents a strategic early move for BBC Worldwide in anticipation of continued major growth in the classical music DVD market, which grew by 182 per cent between 2001 and 2002. As part of the agreement, BBC Worldwide will become a shareholder in Opus Arte, acquiring a minority equity stake, while Opus Arte will make a 10m investment over nine years into new classical programming, as well as licensing recent classical music programmes from BBC Worldwide.



With UK music retailers' sales of DVDs accounting for an ever-increasing share of overall sales, BBC Worldwide and Opus Arte's innovative combination of classical music television and DVD is well placed to secure a leading position in the burgeoning overall music DVD market, which demonstrated 112 per cent year-on-year growth in 2002.



According to an official release, the number of UK households owning DVD players is expected to rise from 25 per cent in 2002 to nearly 60 per cent by 2004, while a 150 per cent increase in consumer spending on DVD software is predicted in Western Europe by 2006. Therefore an expansion into this relatively new area of DVD - classical music - is a timely move by BBC Worldwide, and builds on the record performances of its light entertainment DVDs: The Office, for example, was the fastest-ever selling non-film DVD and the first non-film DVD to pass the half million unit sales mark.



BBC Worldwide will distribute the joint venture TV programmes through its global sales force, which has been strengthened by specialist music sales managers to ensure that programmes resulting from the joint venture receive dedicated international sales and marketing support.



The joint venture cements the existing arrangement that the two companies have had since March 2001 and reflects the success of the relationship so far, which has resulted in 25 new classical music productions and 26 DVDs, including Party at the Palace, which recently received a gold disc. Future projects include Tchaikovsky's The Sleeping Beauty from the Royal Opera House.

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