Signalling how the UK television industry has become a truly ‘mixed ecology’ of different players, investment in the creation of home-grown television programmes by multichannel broadcasters has hit £1.1 billion (€1.23bn) a year, according to a report from industry body the Commercial Broadcasters Association (COBA).
The watershed moment is the first time annual investment in the production of UK television content by the multichannel sector has topped £1 billion, and underscores how newer channels are investing in domestic production as well as the traditional Public Service Broadcasters (BBC, ITV1, Channel 4 and Five).
The record levels of investment in home-grown UK content are revealed in COBA’s 2019 Content Report, a major study conducted by Oliver & Ohlbaum Associates for COBA. The new report details investment in UK television shows by the multichannel broadcasting sector, which comprises hundreds of television channels ranging from household names to specialist services. They invest in a wide range of UK television programming, including high profile drama, entertainment and factual, news and children’s content.
Amongst the key findings are:
“This report signals the coming of age of the multi-channel TV industry,” stated COBA’s chair Heather Jones. “It is not just about the record levels of spend; it is also about creative competition and plurality, giving opportunities to a greater array of voices than ever before. Along with the thriving UK production sector, the biggest beneficiaries are UK viewers – who now have an even better and broader choice of excellent British TV shows to watch than ever before.”
Adam Minns, COBA’s Executive Director, cautioned that investment should not be taken for granted, citing two specific threats to broadcasters’ ability to recoup on their investments via commercial revenue streams:
“A successful mixed ecology of different types of players is a particular strength of the UK television sector and this game-changing level of investment shows the benefits that come from that,” suggested Minns. “But COBA members invest in UK programming without direct or indirect public support in the form of the licence fee, EPG prominence or privileged access to spectrum. Multichannel investment is directly linked to channels’ ability to generate a commercial return, notably via advertising and subscription revenues, and undermining that ability will inevitably make it harder for broadcasters to invest in content.”