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, according to Pact’s annual UK TV Exports Report.

For the first time, over half of programmes (53 per cent) were sold to international streaming and video-on-demand platforms, up from 39 per cent last year.

International Sales of British TV Programmes Reach New High

Frozen Planet II: Our Frozen Planet

Source: BBC

Finished programmes– including shows such as Litvinenko and This England – formed the majority of sales (60 per cent), increasing by 11 per cent to £1.108 billion, exceeding £1 billion for the first time.

Format sales - such as The Traitors - also increased by 22 per cent and co-production sales by 69 per cent.

The 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.

As a result, although the US market continued to be the most important market for UK TV exports, contributing £525m (28 per cent) of all exports, it was flat in terms of growth, not managing to return to pre-Covid numbers after its decline of 11 per cent in 2021-22.

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However, together with Canada, the North American market represented 38 per cent, growing by 14 per cent 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.

Just outside of the top ten, South Africa experienced strong growth rising 66 per cent to £23m.

Scripted drama remains the key driver of international content sales for UK companies, representing 49 per cent of revenue, followed by entertainment (21 per cent) and factual (18 per cent).

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.

John McVay OBE, Pact CEO, said: “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.”

Pact’s UK TV Export Report, sponsored by Fremantle, BBC Studios, ITV Studios, All3Media International and undertaken by 3Vision, surveyed 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.

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