The October issue of Televisual is out now.
This month, our cover story is the Facilities 50, our 30th annual survey of the UK post production market.
It’s a report that portrays, on balance, a relatively positive picture of the industry. Post houses, of course, face a legion of familiar challenges: many cite a downward pressure on rates, the prevalence of undercutting to secure work, and agencies and producers taking work in house. They also stress what a competitive, congested market post production is in 2017. Many add that the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit is not helping business either.
That said, the report reveals how many post houses are thriving at a time when London has established itself as a pre-eminent hub in an increasingly global production market.
In particular, post houses say the rise of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon has opened the door to new opportunities. Not only have the SVoD players widened the client base of many post houses, they have also spurred them to invest heavily in areas such as UHD, HDR, vfx and data storage so they can handle their stringent technical and creative demands.
The rise of the streamers is an issue that dominates discussion in all areas of production right now, not just post. The likes of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and YouTube Red are proving a boon for indies, with a swathe of new commissions for UK production companies announced in recent weeks. However, there are clear signs that broadcasters are starting to panic. At the recent RTS Cambridge Convention, for example, 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch hit out at SVoD players for making “splashy deals” and for being where “shows and movies go to die”.
Broadcasting bosses say the biggest issue they face is the disruption to their business by global tech giants. Politicians and regulators, meanwhile, seem to be focused instead on more local issues, such as the move of Channel 4 out of London or the proposed takeover of Sky by 21st Century Fox.
Yet public service broadcasters in particular do seem at a distinct disadvantage compared to their online rivals. Not only do they lack the deep pockets of the digital players, they also face a much higher level of regulation, and they are unable to retain IP.
Outgoing C4 chief executive David Abraham said at Cambridge that the huge global changes arising from the growth of Amazon and Netflix “have perhaps not been as widely considered by politicians – maybe because they feel they can’t do much.” As the streamers grow in might, though, it’s likely that calls for a level playing field will grow louder.
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