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International revenues continue to drive growth in the UK TV production sector

International revenues boost UK TV production sector revenues; domestic revenues remain stable

UK TV production sector international revenues grew by 5.3 per cent in the past year and have tripled in the past eight years, the Pact 2016 Census published today reveals.

From 2015 to 2016, primary international commissions grew from £430 million to £468 million and this was in part driven by commissions from standalone digital services such as Netflix, which commissioned The Crown, War Machine and a new series of Black Mirror in 2015/16.

Growth has also been particularly high in the international sale of UK finished programmes, with an increase of 166% since 2008. Programmes such as Sherlock, Downtown Abbey, Midsummer Murders, have found large followings overseas. 

Domestic revenues remain flat

Overall TV production sector revenues remained broadly flat at £2.5 billion, a decrease of 2.9% compared with 2015, due to falling UK commissioning revenues and UK rights income from public service broadcasters (PSBs). UK commissioning spend fell in 2016 to £1.50 billion, the lowest since 2011, while commissioning revenues from non-PSBs increased by 13% from 2015 to 2016.

Non-PSBs also spent a higher proportion of their commissioning spend on new commissions, with 61% compared with 39% on returning series. This compares to ITV who spent 19% on new commissions in 2016, Channel 5 with 26% and BBC and Channel 4 with 32%.

Share of commissioning spend by company size

The BBC allocated the most spend to smaller producers in 2016 with 38% of its commissioning budget spent with producers with a turnover of less than £10m. Channel 4’s proportion of spend on smaller producers decreased from 33 per cent in 2015 to 22 per cent in 2016. The prominence of prime-time entertainment formats on ITV and Channel 5 (such as The X Factor and Lip Sync Battle) leads them to working proportionately more with larger producers – ITV spent 57% of its commissioning budget with producers with a turnover of more than £70 million, and Channel 5 spent 56%.

Share of commissioning spend by genre

The proportion of spend on different genres has changed considerably since 2008 with spend on drama nearly halving in value (24% of spend in 2016 compared with 41% in 2008). In comparison, spend on factual entertainment - which includes shows such as The Great British Bake Off, Gogglebox and First Dates - has nearly doubled (13% of spend in 2008 compared with 24% in 2016).

To find out more, read the full Census here: 

Pact Census 2017