Report: Int’l revenues boost UK TV production sector

The British television production sector grew its international revenues by 5.3% in the past year, according to a new report from UK independent producers’ association Pact. The Pact 2016 Census, which ...
September 5, 2017

The British television production sector grew its international revenues by 5.3% in the past year, according to a new report from UK independent producers’ association Pact.

The Pact 2016 Census, which received 90 responses from Pact members, indicates that primary international commissions surged nearly 10% from £430 million to £468 million (US$608 million) in the year prior. The spike was driven in part by standalone subscription platforms Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, the latter of which commissioned motoring series The Grand Tour.

The Grand Tour, which is produced by W. Chump & Sons and Andy Wilman, stars Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. It serves as one of Amazon Video’s most expensive series to date.

In total, SVOD services spent £126 million on UK originals, nearly double the figure spent in 2015 (£62.5 million).

The proportion of spend on varying genres has been drastically altered since 2008, with spend on drama nearly halving in value (24% of spend in 2016 compared with 41% in 2008).

Factual entertainment, meanwhile, continues to grow in the British market, having nearly doubled since 2008 (13% of spend in 2008 compared with 24% in 2016). Percentage spend increased a total of 5% in 2016 once again at the expense of entertainment and drama, swelling to 24% in 2016, up from 19% in 2015.

Fact-ent programming encompasses the likes of reality shows, fly-on-the-wall documentaries and showbiz and gossip series, and includes such series as The Great British Bake Off (pictured), Gogglebox and First Dates.

The proportion of spend on lifestyle (5%), children’s (3%), factual (11%) and other (8%) genres has remained constant from the same period one year ago.

Overall television production revenues in the domestic market, however, have remained relatively stagnant at £2.5 billion, decreasing slightly by 2.9% compared with 2015. The dip was attributed to falling UK commissioning revenues and rights income from public service broadcasters (PSBs), which includes the four main terrestrial networks in BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. PSBs remain the main source of UK primary commission spend within the production sector, accounting for 82% of all commissions.

The BBC allocates the most spend (38%) to smaller producers, while Channel 4′s proportion of spend on smaller producers decreased from 33% in 2015 to 22%.

The prominence of such primetime entertainment formats as The X Factor and Lip Sync Battle have continued to push ITV and Channel 5 to work with larger producers. ITV ordered the highest proportion from larger producers at 57%, while Channel 5 spent 56% of its commissioning budget with producers with a turnover of more than £70 million.

In contrast, commissioning spend from multi-channels grew from £222 million to £275 million, with a 61% increase for new commissions and 39% on returning series.

Commissioning spend in British market dropped to £1.5 billion – the lowest since 2011 – despite commissioning revenues from non-PSBs increasing by 13% last year.

The census pulled its data from a detailed financial survey of Pact members, which represents approximately 67% of the total industry turnover. This data is then aggregated and used as the basis to estimate the overall size of the market and specific sub-segments of activity in the UK.

“It’s encouraging that the world continues to want high quality content of British TV and this important revenue stream enables indies to reinvest back into UK plc,” said Pact chief executive John McVay in a statement.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news editor at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joined the RS team in 2015 with experience in journalism following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and with communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.