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Co-commissions bring record investment to UK production industry

Evidence to be submitted to House of Lords Communications Committee

Co-commissions between broadcasters and SVoDs are helping drive investment in UK TV drama to record levels, according to the Commercial Broadcasters Association (COBA).

Data from the British Film Institute (BFI) revealed that investment in high-end TV production has doubled since 2014, rising to £1.7 billion last year.

The analysis found that productions on which broadcasters and/or SVoDs collaborate at an early stage have nearly doubled over the same time period, from 16 in 2014 to 30 in 2018.

Independent analyst Ben Keen suggested this co-commissioning trend makes greater budgets available for more ambitious shows. Spend per hour has risen by 36 per cent since 2014, with the average show now costing £2.3 million an hour.

Examples include Chernobyl (Sky and HBO), Gentleman Jack (BBC and HBO), Fleabag (BBC and Amazon), The Night Manager (BBC and AMC), the upcoming Dracula (BBC and Netflix) and His Dark Materials (BBC and HBO).

The report notes: “The trend shows no sign of slowing, with the number of co-commissions for 2019 already nearly as high as the total for 2018.

“No less than 32 different broadcasters and SVoDs have partnered with PSBs on co-commissions since 2014, showing that PSBs are among the main beneficiaries and that the trend is not limited to streaming giants. The BBC has consistently been the biggest co-commissioner over this period.”

COBA executive director Adam Minns added: “UK drama and other types of high-end production have never seen more investment from a greater number of sources.

“There are challenges in terms of the skills and capacity to meet this huge increase in demand, but we have a perhaps once in a lifetime opportunity not just to create phenomenal content for audiences, but to ensure that the UK audio-visual sector is at the heart of economic growth post-Brexit.”

The evidence will be submitted to the House of Lords Communications Committee’s ongoing inquiry into PSB and VoD.