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UK TV exports reach US$1.97B, factual programming revenue rises: Pact report

UK television exports generated £1.48 billion (US$1.97 billion) in 2019/20, with factual programming increasing its share of revenue, according to a new report from trade association Pact. That figure, a 6% year-on-year increase, follows ...
November 23, 2020

UK television exports generated £1.48 billion (US$1.97 billion) in 2019/20, with factual programming increasing its share of revenue, according to a new report from trade association Pact.

That figure, a 6% year-on-year increase, follows a record-breaking £1.4 billion in 2018/19.

Scripted dramas were the key driver of international exports for UK companies, accounting for 48% of all revenue. Revenue from factual programming such as Seven Worlds, One Planet (pictured) and The Planets increased to 28% year-on-year.

The U.S. continues to be the most important market for UK exports, contributing 32% (£466 million) of all revenue in the 2019/20 financial year, an increase of £22 million year-on-year.

France (£102 million) and Australia (£98 million) complete the top three markets. Last year, China was identified as a market with growth potential, and revenues there increased by 25% to £40 million in 2019/20.

Sales of finished TV programming remained the largest source of income (70% of the total) this year, surpassing £1 billion for the first time — an increase of 7% year-on-year.

Total revenue from the sale of formats increased by 39% to £119 million with the majority (51%) of sales to Europe. Sales of co-productions also increased by 6% to £133 million with North America being the largest buyer.

Library sales (content aged four or more years) comprised 22% of revenues this year (compared to 38% last year). With production largely halted past March 2020, Pact found there may be an increased contribution from library sales in the next financial year, with feedback from UK distributors highlighting increased demand already.

Looking ahead to 2020/21, Pact’s report stated the U.S. is expected to remain a growth market, with China and Latin America again predicted to offer opportunities.

Commenting on the report, Pact CEO John McVay, said: “British TV content — and in particular drama — continues to be attractive to a global audience. The quality of UK production is admired around the world and this is evident from these record figures. Despite the pandemic, Pact has been working hard to ensure that its members are able to continue to meet with and showcase their work to international buyers, through its Content Without Borders events and our ongoing support of markets such as MIPCOM and the Realscreen Summit.”

The Pact TV Exports report was produced for Pact by 3Vision with funding partner the Department for International Trade, and covers the period of April 2019 to March 2020.

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