Britain’s age of peak TV may be over, or at the very least plateauing, today’s BFI stats suggest.
Following a year in which many major productions including Bridgerton, Lord of the Rings and Apple TV+’s Slow Horses rolled the cameras, spend on high-end TV nonetheless fell by 4% on last year’s record figure to £4.3B ($5.3B). Both inward investment – shows commissioned by non-UK players – and domestic UK spend fell by a similar amount, with the former accounting for 84% of the total figure.
Although the drop is small, the news is a surprise to a booming industry that had seen a mega 155% rise in 2021 and now accounts for a far bigger slice of the TV/film pie. The slight dip contrasted with a strong year for film, which saw spend grow by an impressive 27%, although local indie film continues to flounder.
In 2020, high-end TV spend dipped dramatically due to the Covid-19 pandemic but in the years prior, it had been rising steadily each year, as the U.S. streamers grew their presence in the UK and took advantage of the nation’s tempting high-end tax credit.
Shows to have entered production in 2022 also included Doctor Who, Netflix’s final season of Top Boy and the Helena Bonham Carter-starring ITVX tentpole Nolly.
Observers will now be wondering whether the decline is a sign of things to come. With the world entering recession, buyers from across the globe have floated “belt-tightening” and the new wave of streamers, which had shown such a tendency to throw money at international content, are rowing back.
A number of big-money studio spaces have sprung up over the past year in the UK and, while BFI CEO Ben Roberts hailed the “further investment in expanding studio space UK-wide to meet demand,” the bosses of these new outposts may be nervously eyeing today’s stats.
Also notable from this year’s findings was a three-fold increase in co-production spend. As buyers struggle for financing, the likelihood of projects needing to seek multiple producers or co-commissioners from an early stage grows, and this was a constant source of chatter at recent TV markets.
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