Streamer investment and a ‘Covid correction’ grew UK indies’ turnover by 21% in 2022, but the sector should expect this year’s tougher market to continue into a “shaky” 2024, according to Pact.
The indie body’s annual census shows that revenues rose to a record of almost £4bn in 2022, with newcomers Apple TV and Disney+, and returning Netflix shows The Crown and Sex Education, helping to push up international revenues up 70% after two years of decline.
Pact chief executive John McVay said 2022’s boom year represented the TV market’s recovery after the pandemic, these figures are unlikely to be repeated.
“I think in 2020 we got the industry back up again, in 2021, we accelerated, maybe in 2022, everyone got a bit carried away and over-commissioned, which has led to less money for this year,” he said.
“We’ve often discussed this with broadcasters, about being clearer about their planning and how they spend. So now you might get Channel 4 or someone else saying ’we’ll be having conversations in October but we’re not commissioning until next summer’. That may be what’s coming down the track.”
C4’s reliance on large indies is laid bare in the report: companies with a turnover of more than £70m secured 52% of the broadcaster’s commissioning spend, down from 61% in 2021 but more than double the 24% of 2021’s census.
Indies with a turnover of less than £10m accounted for just 6% of commissioning spend, down from 15% in 2021.
By contrast, smaller indies secured 40% of Channel 5’s spend, while they gre their share of ITV’s spend from 21% to 28%.
The smallest indies of all – those with a turnover of less than £1m – commanded 9% of both the BBC and C5’s spend.
“If you’re a small, out-of-London company, knocking on Ben Frow’s door might be a good idea,” said McVay, who called for “a better mix” at C4.
As for the future, McVay said the 2023 census, which will be published next year, would reflect the current tough conditions, adding:
“I think 2024 is going to be a bit shaky as well,” he said.
“I hope we will get back to a more normal trajectory, get over the Covid correction. But clearly, it’s been a tough year and talking to members lots of them have had to restructure, lay off staff, make changes to their work patterns to try and get through it.”