TV sector revenues reached their highest ever levels in the UK in 2022, according to the annual 2023 Pact Census.

The UK producers’ alliance census of its members found that overall revenues were driven largely by the growth of international revenues and a significant increase in streaming commissions.

1. Pact Census

TV production revenues reached an all time high in 2022

However, Pact warned that the cost-of-living crisis, the war in Ukraine and rising inflation means that 2023 has been a much tougher year so far and this is likely to be reflected in next year’s Census.

In 2022, total sector revenues returned to growth levels seen before the pandemic, increasing by 21.3 per cent on 2021 to reach a record £3,944 million.

While domestic TV revenues experienced slight growth, reaching their highest ever level of £2,207 million, international revenues grew sharply by 70 per cent to reach £1,618 million. 

This follows two years of decline in international revenues. This growth is likely due to the return of multiple major UK international productions The Crown and Sex Education, the UK launch of Apple TV and Disney + and the ongoing attractiveness of the UK TV market to global buyers.

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Digital commissioning – or streaming – both domestically and internationally, was the main driver of growth in 2022.

Domestically, digital commissioning grew to £155 million, more than double (129%) than in 2021, probably due to broadcasters’ shifting commissioning strategies and prioritisation of their VOD services such as iPlayer, ITVX, Channel 4, My5.

Internationally, digital services such as Netflix, Amazon, Apple TV, Disney+ significantly increased their spending on UK independent producers by 133 per cent, reaching a total of £696 million.

Overall commissioning revenues rose by 28.8 per cent to £3,306 million, with UK primary commissions increasing by 4.7 per cent to their highest ever level of £1,986 million.

Primary international commissions almost doubled (97%) to a new high of £1,320 million.

Conversely, there was a decline in secondary rights revenue to £407 million, down £102 million on 2021. This may be partially attributable to the increase in streaming activity, with SVOD platforms often taking all rights.

Spend on factual entertainment, such as reality TV shows, shrunk the most of any genre (6% decrease), likely due to prevailing Covid-19 safety measures, while spend on drama continued to grow reaching 37 per cent of all UK spending in 2022. This was 2 per cent more than 2021 but not as high as the peak of 40 per cent in 2019.

The BBC was the largest spender on new programming, significantly increasing its share of commissioning spend in new programming to 41 per cent in 2022, from 27 per cent in 2021.

Pact CEO John McVay OBE, said: “It’s a sign of confidence in the UK market that international buyers invested in British producers and great British content. However, 2022 is likely to be an exceptional year due to the recovery from the pandemic and the commissioning boom. With the cost-of-living crisis, the situation with Ukraine, rising inflation - we recognise that 2023 so far has been a much tougher year and this is likely to be reflected in next year’s Census.

“Additionally, the Census shows an increase in domestic spend illustrating how over-commissioning by UK broadcasters has contributed to a difficult 2023 with people out of work for long periods of time.”

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