The latest Pact UK TV exports report is published today and shows that 2019/20 was another record-breaking year for UK TV exports, generating £1.48 billion, a 6% year-on-year increase.

Scripted drama – such as Chernobyl, His Dark Materials, The War of The Worlds, The Feed and Doctor Who – was the key driver of international exports for UK companies, and accounted for 48% of all revenue. Factual programming – such as Seven Worlds, One Planet and The Planets – increased its share from 23% to 28% year-on-year.

The USA continues to be the most important market for UK exports contributing 32% (£466m) of all revenue in the 2019/20 financial year, an increase of £22m year-on-year. France (£102m) and Australia (£98m) complete the top three markets. China was identified last year as a market with growth potential and revenues there increased by 25% to £40m.

Looking ahead to 2020/21, China and Latin America are again predicted to offer opportunities as well as expected continued growth in the USA.

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

Total revenue from the sale of formats increased by 39% to £119m with the majority (51%) of sales to Europe and sales of co-productions also increased by 6% to £133m with North America – at 88% – the largest buyer.

Library sales (content aged 4+ years) comprised 22% of revenues this year (compared to 38% last year). With production largely halted past March 2020 there may be an increased contribution from library sales in the next financial year, with feedback from UK distributors highlighting increased demand already.

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 Realscreen.”

Paul Dempsey, President, Global Distribution, BBC Studios, said: “We’re very proud to spearhead the ongoing success of great British shows internationally. The work of our producers continues to inspire and delight audiences all around the world.”

Ruth Berry, MD, Global Distribution, ITV Studios, said: “It’s fantastic to see the global appetite for British television continuing, and not surprisingly given the amazing talent we have in the UK creating such impressive shows. This year has seen viewers across the world discovering both new and existing content, and our extensive catalogue has come into its own as partners have sought a wide range of programming to offer their audiences.

“From pre-sales of World Production’s forthcoming thriller Vigil and the Golden Globe and BAFTA-award winning Bodyguard making its way around the world for a second time, to new sales for classic series such as Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and Poirot, our buyers know that our brilliant British content will always provide them with entertaining shows. Despite the challenges we have faced this year, we have been able to keep the market fully across what we can offer through virtual innovations like our inaugural Fall Festival in September.”

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.

Jon Creamer