U.K. Screen Content Pumps More Than $9 Billion Into U.K. Economy, Study Says

Helen Sloan/HBO
'Game of Thones' is mostly shot in Northern Ireland

A report shows huge growth in high-end TV production thanks to new tax reliefs.

The growth of high-end television, buoyed by creative sector tax reliefs, has helped U.K. screen content give a return of more than $9 billion a year to the local economy, according to a report published Tuesday.

Produced by analysts Olsberg SPI and Nordicity and commissioned by the British Film Institute and the Pinewood Group, among others, the report – entitled The Economic Contribution of the U.K.’s Film, High-end TV, Video Games and Animation Program Sectors – showed that high-end TV spend leaped 87 percent in the first year following the start of the tax relief in 2013.

It pointed to major U.S. production including 24: Live Another Day, Game of Thrones and Outlander shooting in the U.K., plus U.K. exports Downton Abbey, Sherlock and Doctor Who driving revenue, with the sector generating $1.3 billion in GVA in 2013.

Sources revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that 24: Live Another Day alone delivered around $57 million in production spend, with the shoot in late 2013 involving a core crew of 130, a temporary crew of 500 and a U.K. cast of approximately 150.

Another growth driver was the video games industry, which was given a tax relief that came into effect April 1 2014. Grand Theft Auto, plus the Batman Arkham and Lego game franchises are developed in the U.K., with $2.2 billion GVA generated.

By far the largest screen content developer, the film industry, saw GVA equal $5.8 billion, according to the report, which also added that it constitutes a major source of export earnings, reaching more than $2.2 billion in 2013.

For each £1 ($1.55) of film tax relief, the report found that £12.49 ($19.35) in GVA is generated for the economy and that the film relief alone boosts production in the U.K. by $850 million each year.

"The U.K.’s film, TV and video games industries are amongst our nation’s biggest success stories," said the U.K. culture secretary Sajid Javid in a statement. "When you look at Star Wars: Episode VII being filmed at Pinewood, the global popularity of Downton Abbey and the phenomenal success of Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham video games series, it’s clear the sector is only getting stronger."

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