September 13, 2023
The 2023 Pact Census reveals that UK TV sector revenues reached their highest ever levels in 2022, driven largely by the growth of international revenues and a significant increase in streaming commissions.
Total sector revenues returned to growth levels seen before the pandemic, increasing by 21.3 % on 2021 to reach a record GBP 3.94 billion (EUR 4.5 billion).
While domestic TV revenues experienced slight growth, reaching their highest ever level of GBP 2.2 billion, international revenues grew sharply by 70 % to reach GBP 1.6 billion. This follows two years of decline in international revenues. Pact says this growth is likely due to the return of multiple major UK international productions The Crown and Sex Education (pictured), the UK launch of Apple TV+ and Disney+ and the ongoing attractiveness of the UK TV market to global buyers.
Digital commissioning main driver of growth
Digital commissioning – or streaming – both domestically and internationally, was the main driver of growth in 2022.
Domestically, digital commissioning grew to GBP 155 million, more than double (129 %) than in 2021, likely due to broadcasters’ shifting commissioning strategies and prioritisation of their VoD services (e.g. iPlayer, ITVX, My5).
Internationally, digital services (e.g. Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+) significantly increased their spending on UK independent producers by 133 %, reaching a total of GBP 696 million.
Primary international commissions double, secondary rights decline
Overall commissioning revenues rose by 28.8 % to GBP 3.3 billion, with UK primary commissions increasing by 4.7 % to their highest ever level of GBP 1.9 billion.
Primary international commissions almost doubled (97 %) to a new high of GBP 1.3 billion.
Conversely, there was a decline in secondary rights revenue to GBP 407 million, down GBP 102 million on 2021. This may be partially attributable to the increase in streaming activity, with SVoD platforms often taking all rights.
Mid and large sized indies benefitted most from post-pandemic boom.
2022 also saw an increase in both PSB and multichannel commissioning spend with PSB commissioning spend increasing by 4.4 % and multichannel by 5.9 %.
The market share of mid-sized production companies (GBP 5 – GBP 25 million) increased as they entered higher turnover brackets. And over half of all commissioning spend (51 %) went to producers with a turnover of above GBP 70 million, largely due to more producers in this turnover bracket and international commissioning spend going to larger producers.
Spend on drama remains strong, factual entertainment decreases
Spend on factual entertainment (e.g. 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 % of all UK spending in 2022. This was 2 % more than 2021 but not as high as the peak of 40 % in 2019.
The BBC was the largest spender on new programming, significantly increasing its share of commissioning spend in new programming to 41 % in 2022, from 27 % in 2021.
Commenting on the Census, 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.”