STV chief executive Rob Woodward is pinning his hopes on the station’s Antiques Road Trip achieving what hit detective drama Taggart failed to do – break into the American market.
Taggart was sold to 70 countries but did not crack the US. Now Woodward hopes the format for his antiques series, in which experts “set off on a road trip searching for treasures and competing to make the most money at auction”, will be snapped up and turned into an American version.
A second series of the celebrity version of the antiques show – which has featured the likes of Emilia Fox, Myleene Klass and Kate Silverton – kicks off on BBC2 tomorrow, following on from a fifth series of the standard show that was broadcast in September.
“The more success you have in your domestic market, then the better the chances of the series being picked up in the US,” Woodward told Scotland on Sunday.
Glasgow-based STV, which holds the ITV licences for the Central Belt and the north of Scotland, signed a deal with US production company Kinetic Content in 2010 to “swap” formats for shows.
That relationship has already led to STV bringing First Dance – a series in which experts teach couples how to dance for their wedding day – to the UK.
Woodward said the pilot programme will have “network-quality production” of a level not seen before on his channel, along with a budget of £100,000. He hopes the pilot will attract the attention of a UK-wide broadcaster, which could lead to a full series being commissioned.
“We have a bridgehead in the US with Kinetic,” he said. “Now that we’ve brought a US format to the UK, we want to take one of our formats to America.”
Selling a programme into the American market isn’t the only international expansion on Woodward’s mind. STV is also mulling options for selling content to the Scottish diaspora, which could number up to 40 million people.
Woodward remained tight-lipped about his plan, but selling versions of STV’s news reports or other programming over the internet is thought to feature highly among the options.
“I’ve always said that I had three aims to fulfil at STV: stabilise the company, then grow the production business and look at ways to grow services that could appeal to an international market,” said Woodward, who joined as chief executive in 2007 after a spell as commercial director at Channel 4.
“The plans are at a very early stage but we think it’s a great opportunity, especially as Scotland’s profile will be raised internationally through the Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup, the Year of Homecoming and the independence referendum.”
Closer to home, Woodward expects a decision from the UK government later this month over whether STV will be awarded the franchises to run local television stations in Edinburgh and Glasgow. He said the stations would not be branded as STV but instead would be called “Edinburgh TV” and “Glasgow TV”.