Global sales of British TV programmes returned to growth in 2021/22 after last year’s pandemic-related decline, Pact’s TV Exports Report revealed today.

Total UK TV exports grew by 7 per cent year-on-year to reach a record £1,521 million, and by 3 per cent compared with 2019/20 levels.

Drama continued to make up the majority of international sales – with The Tourist and Vigil among the most popular titles – but did see a small decline from 53% to 46%. Entertainment shows – such as Love Island and Masterchef – drove an increase from 15% to 24% in the entertainment genre.

Once again, the United States was the UK’s biggest TV export market last year, generating £510m and 34% of all exports but is slightly down (11%) compared with its trend defying growth last year. Australia (£118m), France (£93m), Canada (£92m) and The Nordics region (£92m) completed the top five. 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).

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 share.

The number one ranked market for growth identified by respondents was the USA, followed by China, India, Canada and Mexico.

Defying recent trends, sales to streaming services showed a fall in their share of total TV sales (44% to 40%), perhaps showing the resilience of global broadcasters who 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.

Compared with last year, more respondents are highlighting the issues around 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.”

Louise Pedersen, ceo, All3Media International, said: “These strong figures confirm the resilience and dynamism of the UK TV Exports sector. It’s encouraging to see growth in various markets and the increasing importance of AVOD and FAST revenues which we expect to continue into next year. There are challenges around increasing production costs and some restructuring at US studios and we will be watching how these changes impact the sector over the coming months.”

Rebecca Glashow, chief executive officer, Global Distribution, BBC Studios, said: “These figures show just how much British television is loved by audiences around the world and we are proud to work with our partners to bring them shows from Gentleman Jack to This Is Going to Hurt; Universe to The Green Planet.”

Bob McCourt, coo, International, Fremantle, said: “Our production expertise and vast catalogue of shows across entertainment, drama and documentaries have once again proven popular with global buyers. Providing irresistible entertainment to the world is at the core of everything we do at Fremantle. Moreover, it is great to see overall growth across the industry, after what has been a difficult few years for production.”

Ruth Berry, md, Global Distribution, ITV Studios, said: “It’s brilliant to see how the UK television industry has survived one of the most challenging times in our history. It has been a spectacular bounce back, proving just how popular UK content is across the world.

“As this demand continues to grow, our pipeline of amazing content means we can provide our global buyers with a vast range of exciting shows, from gripping dramas such as the Emmy award-winning Vigil to global hit formats such as Love Island and factual programmes including the awe-inspiring A Year on Planet Earth.”


Pippa Considine

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