One of the few areas where some big TV production companies still make a lot of money is in selling shows on a global basis. Just ask CBS how much money it still makes globally from its "CSI" franchise.
People may complain about the U.S. trading deficit. But the silver lining continues to be all forms of the entertainment industry, including television and theatrical movies.
Perhaps that is why worldwide consumer products company Unilever is a global sponsor of Fox's new drama "Touch," with the show being launched everywhere at almost the same time. Executive producer Tim Kring experienced this globalization previously with the somewhat short-lived "Heroes." The show gained fans rapidly in certain territories, with many viewing episodes -- albeit illegally -- before their official release.
In the early ‘90s, there was the belief that many U.S. shows would spread throughout the world with global sponsors like Unilever. This sprung out of the rapid growth in the U.S. syndication market in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, when major production companies would give a show to stations for no exchange of cash.
To get the show, stations give up advertising time -- in many cases half the show’s inventory -- to those production companies who would in turn roll up these market-by-market commercials into national units and sell them to national advertisers.
But dealing with Poland, Hungary or Italy as individual "markets" like Dallas, Cleveland or Atlanta didn't work too well. Many more cultural differences, advertising and creative preference exist country-by-country than in U.S. markets. So that kind of global marketplace didn't really develop.
However, with certain shows and a smaller pool of culturally sensitive global advertisers, this new kind of TV globalization has promise. Factor in a now-constant 24/7 real-time digital world, and viewers -- and sponsors -- expect nothing less.