Netflix and Amazon Prime Video spent £150 million on British TV shows in 2017, helping to drive industry revenues to a record high.
Commissioning revenue from overseas on-demand services, including both VOD giants (as well as much smaller investors, such as YouTube) increased by 19 per cent year-on-year, according to annual data from TV producer trade association Pact. Steaming services accounted for almost one-third of international commissioning revenue, including programmes such as The Crown and Black Mirror for Netflix and Amazon’s expensive motoring blockbuster The Grand Tour.
Total TV production sector revenues hit a new high of £2.7 billion in 2017, a rise of nearly a third over the past decade. That growth has been driven by international revenue which has doubled over the past eight years to £802 million, from £389 million in 2010. This growth has been bolstered by sales to overseas companies growing by 13 per cent per year over the past 3 years. Programmes that are particularly popular overseas include Victoria, Sherlock and Midsomer Murders.
“It is inevitable those big platforms want to work with British producers, because we have a reputation for delivering creativity and quality,” John McVay, the chief executive of TV producers’ association Pact said in a statement. “We want to encourage all those platforms to spend more, and they almost certainly will, as they still account for a small proportion of total commissioning spend.”
The figures follow Netflix’s growing commitment to invest in European content, including British projects. Co-productions such as Channel 4’s Kiss Me First, ITV’s Marcella and BBC’s Wanderlust are increasingly common, forming a significant chunk of Netflix’s total $8 billion annual budget. Amazon, meanwhile, has around $5 billion to invest this year in content, and is increasingly investing in such shows as BBC Three’s Fleabag, Channel 4’s Catastrophe, as well as its own period fashion drama The Collection, plus Amazon and ITV’s co-production Vanity Fair.
While lavish dramas and shows on an international scale are a trend, though, British TV is also seeing another movement driven by the popularity of factual entertainment. Spending on the genre has almost doubled since 2012 (23 per cent of commissions up from 12 per cent), driven by such hits as Love Island, First Dates and Gogglebox.