Organisers of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo aim to increase the global TV audience of the event to more than a billion – with lucrative new agreements in China and India.
Brigadier David Allfrey, chief executive and producer of the event, has unveiled ambitious plans to secure long-running broadcast deals with the two countries. The move – expected to coincide with the appearance of more Indian and Chinese performers in the event – would see the number of viewers rise tenfold from its present level.
Plans to greatly expand the global reach of the event were announced as it emerged the Tattoo is set to sell out in advance for the first time in five years – despite its opening weekend clashing with the Commonwealth Games.
Organisers have revealed sales are running around 8,000 ahead of last year, with 97 per cent of seats already snapped up ahead of yesterday’s official launch, when details of the programme were announced.
Last year’s event did not sell out until around two weeks into the run at the Castle Esplanade.
The Tattoo opens on Thursday night, with its dress rehearsal, with another three performances due to be held before the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow draw to a close on Sunday.
The event – which is being held for the 65th year – has sold out for the last 15 years in a row, but is viewed by a further 100 million people in around 45 countries thanks to coverage filmed by the BBC.
Brigadier Allfrey said: “We are one of four really big offerings that BBC Music record every year, along with the Proms season, the Glastonbury Festival and Radio One’s Big Weekend, and our programme is already licensed out to a huge number of territories around the world.
“I have a real interest in the developing markets, particularly in India and China, where there is an enormous number of people who are tremendously interested in our offering.
“We think there is a real opportunity to reach a stronger audience by working with the two state broadcasters in each of these countries.
“The real interest is in the years to come, where Scotland’s relationship with these great economies is set to grow. I want to make sure the Tattoo is presented to both Indian and Chinese audiences in much the same way as it is in Australia, where the Tattoo is shown every year on New Year’s Day.
“We want to ensure that they take the programme every year, and in years to come we are talking about acts from India and China. We are setting the conditions for proper broadcast of those programmes, which we think will capture the public imagination in those countries.”
Acts from South Africa, the Caribbean, New Zealand, India and Singapore appear in this year’s Tattoo, which runs until 23 August.
Highlights are expected to include appearances from the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force Steel Orchestra, the iNgobamakhosi Zulu Dance Troupe, from South Africa, the Nagaland Folkloric Group, from north-east India, and a group of Shetland Fiddlers.
Just 3,000 tickets remain on sale for this year’s event, but Brigadier Allfrey warned these were expected to be quickly snapped up, despite the huge interest in the Games.