Although advertising is Thames chief source of income, selling programmes to television stations overseas has become a major revenue earner for the company and Thames programmes are now seen in over 100 countries around the world.
Thames Television International, the company’s subsidiary for overseas distribution, maintains a network of agents across the globe. It participates in all the important international television festivals, and even runs one of its own, The London Screenings, which regularly draws nearly two hundred delegates to London from countries as far apart as Rumania and Hong Kong.
Thames International is also a major distributor of programmes from other producers, and has achieved further successes with versions of British programmes for the American market. For example, Thames International re-edited Benny Hill’s shows into half hours specifically for the American market with the result that he has become a cult for viewers from coast to coast. Similarly the situation comedies Man About The House and Keep It In The Family have been developed in new US versions achieving top ratings such as ‘Three’s Company’ and ‘Too Close For Comfort.’
Technological advance, bringing new media like cable TV, video discs and cassettes, means that there is always a new market for programmes from Thames, and nowhere more than in Britain’s growing home video market. Since March 1981, when Thames Video began operations, videocassettes including The Royal Wedding, The Benny Hill Show, Kenny Everett, The World at War and The Naked Civil Servant have made a considerable impact. And worldwide, Thames videocassettes are securing the high reputation for quality that is already associated with Thames programmes.
Thames also has a considerable interest in publishing, largely but not entirely as a follow-up and reinforcement of Thames on-air output. Books like The World at War and The Troubles make the information presented in the series available to the interested viewer in more detail; in the same way, Thames published Rainbow stories and Theatre Box plays for children.