Pact has released its latest UK TV Exports Report that shows sales of British TV shows such as "Frozen Planet II" and "Ru Paul’s Drag Race" helped UK TV exports reach their highest level of £1.853 billion in 2022-23, a 22 per cent increase on the previous year. Pact’s UK TV Exports Report, sponsored by Fremantle, BBC Studios, ITV Studios, All3Media International and undertaken by 3Vision, surveys over 20 UK distributors about their international sales and any challenges they have faced in the past year, as well as any they expect to come in the next 12 months.
For the first time, over half of programmes (53%) were sold to international streaming and video-on-demand platforms, up from 39 per cent last year. “These strong sales figures highlight yet again that UK indies continue to produce quality TV programmes that the rest of the world want to watch. However, we anticipate that this is likely to be an exceptional year and that next year’s report will reflect the current global financial uncertainty and rising production costs,” John McVay OBE, Pact CEO, said.
Finished programmes, including shows such as "Litvinenko" and "This England," formed the majority of sales (60%), increasing by 11% to £1.108 billion, exceeding £1 billion for the first time. Format sales also increased by 22% and co-production sales by 69 per cent. These record figures were achieved despite half of respondents saying their business was impacted by the period of austerity and cost management that major US companies experienced. “Despite the wider industry headwinds, Fremantle has once again delivered another extremely strong performance. Our stellar IP and powerful content line-up across entertainment, drama, film and documentaries has once again proven popular with global buyers. Telling compelling stories, and working with world-class talent from across the globe to deliver irresistible entertainment is central to all we do at Fremantle. We are proud to be able to share these incredible stories and our vast entertainment catalogue with our valued clients and partners, delivering a strong performance as we head into 2024,” Bob McCourt, COO, Commercial and International, Fremantle, said.
As a result, although the US market continued to be the most important market for UK TV exports, contributing £525m (28%) of all exports, it was flat in terms of growth, not managing to return to pre-Covid numbers after its decline of 11% in 2021-22. However, together with Canada, the North American market as a whole represented 38%, growing by 14% year on year. A number of European markets experienced growth of over 20 per cent this year, with Spain growing by 79 per cent to £40m, Italy increasing by 21 per cent to £38m and Germany moving into third place behind Australia after another strong year, rising 26 per cent in the past year to £108m. “I am very proud of our BBC Studios team and our continued leadership in bringing the very best of British content to the world. Even through a period of disruption in the marketplace, we are seeing an appetite for high-quality content around the world, from Frozen Planet II, to Serengeti and Top Gear to name a few. We are very fortunate to have one of the strongest content portfolios in the business. We have a deep library of content across all genres that appeal to a range of customer and audience needs around the world," Rebecca Glashow, CEO, Global Distribution, BBC Studios, said.
Just outside of the top ten, South Africa experienced strong growth rising 66% to £23m. Scripted drama remains the key driver of international content sales for UK companies, representing 49% of revenue, followed by entertainment (21%) and factual (18%). When asked, unsurprisingly respondents cited a lack of financing support from commissioners as the likely key impact on the distribution of UK content internationally in the next 12 months (100 per cent of respondents). Increased production costs also featured highly (91 per cent of respondents) while 73 per cent of distributors said the growing market for FAST (Free Ad-Supported TV) channels will impact the market for UK programming. “The record growth across the export sector should be celebrated, with UK revenues at their highest level since this survey began at £1.85B. It’s encouraging to see the UK’s format exports growing strongly and we’re delighted that A3MI’s breakout global hit The Traitors has played its part in that. In line with the survey results All3MI saw increased sales and co-production activity in Germany, reflected in its third place in the UK’s export rankings," Louise Pedersen, CEO, All3Media International, said.
Ruth Berry, Managing Director, Global Partnerships, ITV Studios, said: “Despite the challenges and uncertainties of the past year, it’s great to see growth is at an all-time high, proving that British television continues to be loved globally. That said, we’re acutely aware buyers and commissioners have become more discerning than ever and only the very best content will cut through. ITV Studios’ portfolio including the gripping real-life series Litvinenko, nail-biting thriller The Suspect and the immensely stylish The Ipcress File, all of which have aired in 100+ countries, were able to meet those high expectations.”