According to a just-released study from Pact, the UK trade association for independent producers, the UK indie production sector garnered record revenues from international sales and overseas production, to the tune of £391 million.
The Pact Policy Survey and Financial Census 2009, conducted by Oliver and Ohlbaum Associates, states that for 2008, overseas turnover for the UK’s independent sector was up more than 80% over 2004 levels. Growth was found in every area of international sales, including sales of finished programs and in overseas production of new shows.
The U.S. was cited as the strongest export market for UK indies, with 24% of respondents saying they’d received commissions from the U.S. in the past 12 months. To this point, Pact chief executive John McVay said, ”As well as the strength of UK indies in driving exports of completed programs, the data confirms the success of UK independents in producing new shows in the U.S. market, where many primetime shows for U.S. networks are made by UK indies. The independent sector is starting to produce globally successful companies.’
Non-TV new media revenues also experienced strong growth, increasing 72% to £66 million, as opposed to overall TV incomes growing by 0.5%. Overall, the report states that total indie sector turnover had modest growth in 2008, 1.1% over 2007 numbers. Average profit margins for the sector were also found to have decreased to 8%, comparable to 2004 levels.
Still, the survey shows that indies were strongly investing in UK program production, bringing up to £190 million to the table for financing UK television content. This figure was also mentioned in another Pact report released last month, The Economics of UK TV Content Supply: Challenges and Opportunities to 2020. That report also revealed that new commissioning in the UK has seen a 4% decline in primary prices over the last year, and that 30% of producers reported the postponement of commissioned material. Indie producers’ share of commission spending from the five main UK nets (BBC1 & 2, ITV, Channel 4 and Five) stood at 53% in 2008, according to the study.
‘When you consider that the level of indie profit margins has been flat, despite strong growth in total turnover in recent years, you can see what an incredibly efficient source of investment for UK programs indies represent,’ said Pact chair Charles Wace. ‘I’m encouraged, for example, to see indies recorded strong growth in non-TV new media revenues. But the recent slowing in overall growth shows that independents are not immune to the current downturn and cuts in commissioning budgets, and will need to be more competitive than ever in developing new markets.’
To request a copy of the report, visit //www.pact.co.uk.