A New Decade: A Look at UK Film and Television

Things have been looking positive in the UK lately – in the media and entertainment industries at any rate. And the new decade seems to be heading in the same direction. There has been a steady and consistent rise in spending on film and high-end television, yielding greater turnover and encouraging further investment. Over the course of the last decade, the industry, while dealing with the inevitable highs and lows of the market, saw a significant boost. Now, as we transition into the 2020s, does this rise in spending still hold true?

The easiest way to tackle this question is to break it down into its basic factors: Turnover, exports, contribution to GDP and companies will be the focus of this article.


Starting with turnover, according to the BFI’s annual industry re-cap (the most recent of which covers the years between 2016 and 2017), turnover rose from £13.2 billion to £14.8 billion. This shows a considerable growth rate. Taking into account the statistics from the start of the last decade the industry turnover was at £6.4 billion – leading to an £8.4 billion increase over the course of 10 years or a rise of 132%.


The film exports market has had a more turbulent path to where it finds itself today. Yet recent years have seen a more consistent and significant rise. Between the years of 2016 and 2017 (the most recent statistics from the BFI), there has been a 67% uplift in exported intellectual property (IP) in audio-visual (AV) services. This totals a worth of £2.2 billion which in turn led to 94.5% increase in value as compared to 2008.

Contribution to GDP

Both the BFI and Office for National Statistics have reported that the film and TV industries are continually increasing their contributions to the UK’s overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP). From the film industry’s low point in 2012, where it contributed under £3 billion, it doubled in just five years. TV added a further £1.7 billion in 2016, a year which saw the start of heavy investments inspired by the industry’s tax breaks. In Q1 2019 the total UK spend on films is £274.8 million – 26 films in total, one film up from the previous year.


This is a look at the number of production and post-production companies are currently operating in the UK. Between the years 2014-2018, the number of companies increased by 36%, with video production companies specifically rising 70%. In 2018, there were 8,165 film production companies, 2,915 film, video and TV post-production companies, 420 film distribution companies and 270 film exhibition companies.


Over and around the last 10 years the UK Film and Television industry has seen dramatic growth. As we move into the next decade, and regardless of other social / economic changes the country is and will face, the industry looks set to keep growing.


All data is sourced from the British Film Institute’s annual industry reports and the Office for National Statistics. Links to the data sources can be found here (BFI) and here (ONS).