BBC chief: SVOD nets won’t stop £500m shortfall

BBC chief Tony Hall (pictured) has warned a potential £500 million (US$652 million) shortfall in spend of original UK content is up ahead, and that Netflix and Amazon’s models will not help alievate the problem.

The director general of the UK’s pubcaster said results of a Mediatique report the BBC has commissioned reveal a “really worrying” state of affairs.

The reports suggests that a real terms gap of £500 million will open up in the next ten years between the amount spent now and what will be spent then.

“That represents over 20% of what is spent today,” said Hall. “Or, to put it another way, enough to make around 200 Sherlocks, and still have enough left over for nearly 100 Veras.”

He added that Mediatique’s report rubbishes the opinion that new SVOD players such as Netflix and Amazon will plug the gap, and claimed their rising revenues had not “translated into an increased investment in British content”.

“What Amazon and Netflix are offering consumers is good and impressive, and they’re offering producers here some fantastic opportunities too, but the reality is that their investment decisions are increasingly likely to focus on a narrow range of very expensive, very high-end content – big bankers that they can rely on to have international appeal and attract large, global audiences,” said Hall.

“Even the most generous calculations suggest they are barely likely to make up half of the £500 million gap in British content over the decade ahead… And a more realistic forecast points to them contributing substantially less.

“What this adds up to is not just a real risk to the volume and breadth of British content, but also – as the report warns – a potentially damaging impact on UK distinctiveness, risk-taking, and innovation.”

It is not the first time Hall has warned about the potentially negative effects Netflix and Amazon may have on the British content market.

Earlier this year, he said the BBC needed to “reinvent public service broadcasting” order to combat the SVOD threat.

“In the UK we often think of the BBC as a big player – and in the UK, of course, we are, but today the media market is truly global,” said Hall yesterday during his lecture at the Liverpool John Moores University. “In that vast solar system, we are a medium-sized planet compared to the huge gas giants of the US – the Netflixes, Apples, and Amazons.”

Hall said executives needed to “look at the BBC afresh – not in terms of our place in a domestic market, but in terms if the broader role we can play in helping to strengthen UK production in a global market”.

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