UK TV exports return to growth to hit $1.8bn, but drama & streamer revenues decline

The Tourist

Sales of UK shows to global buyers brought in more than £1.5bn ($1.8bn) in 2021/22, marking a return to growth for the sector although revenues from drama and deals with streamers were both down.

Total UK TV exports grew by 7% year-on-year to reach a record £1.52m, which was also up 3% on pre-pandemic levels in 2019/20, according to the TV Exports Report from UK trade body Pact.

Dramas such as The Tourist and Vigil were highlighted as being among the most popular titles, but the genre saw revenues decline from 53% to 46%. Entertainment shows, meanwhile, saw an increase from 15% to 24%, with long-running formats such as ITV Studios’ Love Island and Banijay’s Masterchef key performers.

Finished programme sales continue to be the largest contributor to all TV export revenue (64%), with international productions (14%) and formats (12%) taking the next largest shares.

Love Island

However, sales to streaming services fell from 44% in 2020/21 to 40% last year, while global broadcasters now represent 60% of total TV finished programming sales. However, HBO Max, Amazon and Netflix have acquired at least one programme from over 60% of respondents, up significantly from last year.

The US remains the UK’s biggest TV export market, generating £510m and 34% of all exports, although that was 11% down on last year. Australia (£118m), France (£93m), Canada (£92m) and The Nordics region (£92m) completed the top five, while exports to Germany, The Netherlands and Italy all grew by over 40% year-on-year.

Library sales (content aged 4+ years) continued to be popular overseas with 30% of revenues, marginally down from 33% in 2020/21 but still up on the previous year (22% in 2019/20).

The number one ranked market for growth identified by respondents was the USA, followed by China, India, Canada and Mexico, while major issues include the increased cost of productions and the lack of financing support from commissioners.

Ninety-two per cent of respondents cited increased costs of productions as something that will impact the distribution of UK content in the next 12 months, compared to 69% last year. Whilst 85% of respondents mentioned a lack of financing support from commissioners, up from 44% last year.

Pact CEO John McVay, said: “After a period of huge uncertainty during the pandemic, it’s great to see TV exports bouncing back not only to pre-pandemic levels, but to an all-time high. This growth reinforces the UK’s reputation as world class producers of quality TV shows enjoyed by millions of people around the world.”

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