Streaming Boom Pushes Big-Budget UK Production Spending to £ 6 Billion | Television industry

The amount spent on making Hollywood hits such as the latest Indiana Jones film and big budget dramas including the Star Wars TV spin-off Andor in the UK this year is on track to hit a record high of £ 6bn, thanks to a pandemic-fueled spending spree as streaming giants and broadcasters fight for supremacy in the global TV wars.

Investment in making premium movies and TV shows costing at least £ 1million per episode in the UK this year will more than double the £ 2.8 billion in 2020 – when the The production industry has shut down for months – and two narcotics – by three-thirds more than the previous record set before the 2019 pandemic.

The numbers highlight the growing intensity of the streaming wars waged by Netflix, Amazon and more recently Disney, which in turn have forced broadcasters such as Sky, the BBC and ITV to invest significantly more in big-budget content.

According to the latest figures from the British Film Institute, spending on premium TV shows reached £ 3.3bn in the year through the end of September, well over £ 1.4bn. pounds sterling incurred so far for the making of feature films in the UK. In the previous two years, spending on premium UK-made movies and TV shows has been at almost identical levels.

“We are experiencing a boom. We have seen incredible growth in the first three quarters of this year, ”said Ben Roberts, CEO of BFI. “Streamers have taken up huge amounts of studio space in the UK. And the number of streamers creating content here is increasing; For a long time it was only Netflix, which means we are seeing tremendous growth in demand for content.

When the final quarter’s production spend is revealed in the new year, the total is expected to reach and even surpass £ 6bn as streamers and broadcasters rush to replenish their content libraries after the pipeline delay. production last year.

While the UK has for many years proven to be an extremely popular base – thanks to a combination of generous tax breaks, a highly skilled workforce and a talent base – the speed with which was able to restart production gave the country a competitive advantage as a site. of choice.

Initiatives include the £ 500million government-backed insurance scheme, which has so far resulted in more than 1,000 productions with budgets worth £ 2.6 billion, as well as the rapid introduction of Covid health and safety protocols and quarantine exemptions for crews and essential talent to fly in the UK.

“I don’t think I would say we ‘steal’ productions from other countries,” said Roberts. “[Hollywood] studios and streamers have made the UK a major base. The UK is a natural port and often the first port of call for productions. There is no sign that we are “cutting” productions elsewhere.

However, in August, Amazon made the surprise decision to move its more than $ 1 billion production of Lord of the Rings to the UK, having only filmed one series in New Zealand. “It was Amazon’s choice, not ours,” said Roberts.

The UK has been inundated with nearly 200 TV and film productions this year, including Netflix’s The Witcher and The Sandman, Disney’s Andor, Aardman Animations’ Chicken Run 2, Wonka, Aquaman 2 and Dungeons & Dragons.

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Last month, Netflix struck a deal to double the size of its base at Shepperton Studios, where it has produced such productions as the Enola Holmes TV series and Charlize Theron’s film The Old Guard, and spent around $ 1 billion. dollars this year to make 60 UK TV shows and movies.

Disney has a similar large-scale deal at Pinewood Studios, where the Star Wars and Marvel films are based, and Apple has secured facilities in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

The streaming wars sparked a response from mainstream broadcasters with Sky, which is building a new large-scale complex in Elstree, Hertfordshire, with Comcast-owned Universal Studios unveiling its biggest list of original content investing in 125 TV series and cinema this year.

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