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The rise of 'superindies' driving growth within the UK television production market

Press Release   •   Jun 14, 2013 09:45 BST

The UK television production market experienced the value of commissions reach a value of over £3 billion in 2012, with the market having experienced modest but sustained growth during the turbulent economic climate of recent years.

The UK television production industry has faced a variety of pressures over the past five years amid changes to the broadcasting landscape.

There are two main types of companies that operate in the industry. Firstly, in-house TV programme production companies produce shows for a parent broadcasting company. The other type is independent TV programme production companies, which can make shows for a wide range of broadcasters.

Although the traditional PSB channels still account for over 75% of the market, this proportion is falling as growth is being driven by the multi-channel segment, led by BSkyB, which has, in recent years, started to commission more original UK programming than in the past.

The most important driver of value in TV production remains the one which is hardest to predict: hit rate in developing the highly successful formats, such as 'Big Brother', 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' or 'Downton Abbey', which become major successes for many years.

Shows of this nature help production companies to deal with the relatively low revenue visibility which they have in a project-based business, as it is generally more profitable and less risky to invest in extending the life of an existing successful format than to create another new hit.

While the largest television producers remain the two major in-house production arms of the leading networks, BBC and ITV, the independent sector has changed significantly in recent years.

As a consequence of the launch of Channel 4 in 1982, and the 25% independent quota from the Broadcasting Act 1990, an independent production sector has grown in the UK. Notable companies include Talkback Thames, Endemol UK, Hat Trick Productions, and Tiger Aspect Productions. These groups now have extensive international operations and are sometimes known as 'superindies'.

The industry is now at an exciting point and continues to develop, but with significant areas of uncertainty. The traditional broadcasters remain the major commissioners of content but they face revenue challenges from the internet competing increasingly successfully for advertising revenue and the freeze in the licence fee.

For more information on the UK television production market, see the latest research: UK Television Production Market

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