Global sales of British content hit new record levels

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

1 DEC 2022

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Total UK TV exports grew by 7 percent year-on-year to reach a record £1,521 million, and by 3% compared with 2019/20 levels. Drama continued to make up most of the international sales – with "The Tourist" and "Vigil" among the most popular titles - but saw a small decline from 53% to 46%. Entertainment shows – such as "Love Island" and "Masterchef" – increased 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 it 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 program 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 program 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 percent 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.

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 worldwide.” John McVay Pact CEO