Netflix provides vital boost to UK TV industry
James R | On 06, Sep 2017
Netflix is providing a vital boost to the UK TV industry, new figures reveal, as the streaming giant continues to invest in British programming.
Netflix proved something of a fresh rival to broadcasters last year, as it snapped up both Channel 4’s Black Mirror and produced The Crown, which is thought to be one of the most expensive TV series ever made. That investment, though, is helping to offset a decline in revenues from domestic production.
New figures from the UK producers association Pact, which measure production activity, show that domestic commissioning spend fell to £1.5 billion, the lowest figure since 2011. Spending on drama dipped, with scripted programming accounting for 24 per cent of the total commissioning spend, the lowest level since 2008, when Pact’s records began. Factual entertainment spend, on the other hand, increased.
The BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5 made up 80 per cent of homegrown commissions, down year-on-year, as multi-channel broadcasters raised their spend from layers £222 million to £275 million. Overall, including non-public service broadcasters, UK TV production revenue slipped 2.9 per cent to £2.6 billion.
International sales and commissions, though, have proven a bright spot in the industry, with revenue rising 5.3 per cent year-on-year. Revenue is now at £798 million, up 13 per cent since 2010.
Orders from Netflix and international services for U.K. programming grew at a healthy clip last year, helping to offset a decline in revenues from domestic production.
Digital services are a large part of driving that spend, accounting for £468 million of revenue – and Netflix is at the head of the pack, with productions such as The Crown and Black Mirror fuelling the increase. Together with other SVOD companies, Netflix commissioned a total of £126 million worth of UK content in 2016, said Pact.
International distribution is also enjoying “healthy” activity, with shows such as Sherlock, Downton Abbey and Midsomer Murders all finding big audiences abroad.
John McVay, chief executive at Pact, said: “It’s encouraging that the world continues to want high quality content of British TV and this important revenue stream enables indies to reinvest back into UK plc.”