Drama Drives U.K. TV Exports to Record $1.8 Billion

The Bodyguard

A ratings smash in the U.K. this year, where it premiered on the BBC, this slick 24-style thriller follows Game of Thrones star Richard Madden as troubled war veteran David Budd, assigned to protect a controversial politician (played by Peaky Blinders's Sophie Rundle). The plot twists strain credibility but if you leave your logic at the door Bodyguard's non-stop thrills will leave you gasping for breath.

Thanks to dramas such as 'Bodyguard,' U.K. TV exports rose 7 percent over the past year.

U.K. TV exports reached a record in 2018/2019, according to a new report, hitting £1.4 billion ($1.8 billion), a 7 percent increase over 2017/2018.

The Pact TV Exports report found that drama (including shows such as Bodyguard) dominated TV sales, with 48 percent of the total, followed by non-scripted factual (such as Blue Earth II) with 23 percent and entertainment (such as Love Island) with 15 percent.

The U.S. remained the biggest contributor to U.K. export revenue, accounting for £444 million ($570 million), with North America in total representing 38 percent of all sales. France ($148 million) and Australia (£96m) maintained their positions in the top three biggest export markets, with £115 million ($144 million) and £96 million ($123 million), respectively.

The report also highlighted the surge in U.K. distributors selling globally to SVOD players, including Netflix and Amazon, with revenue generation from pan-regional and worldwide deals increasing by £21 million ($27 million) over in the past year, up 56 percent.

North America (principally the U.S.) continues to be the most important partner for U.K. co-productions, accounting for £81 million ($104 million), and international production revenue (the revenue generated by the overseas production arms of companies), which hit £123 million ($158 million).

The Pact TV Exports report was produced for Pact by 3Vision with funding partners Department for International Trade, BBC Studios and ITV Studios.

"More than ever, British television is internationally recognized as world class. The quality of work our program-makers are producing is second to none and it’s an absolute privilege to take their output to audiences across the globe,” said Paul Dempsey, president of global distribution at BBC Studios.

"We are delighted to see that U.K. exports are at an all-time high and going from strength to strength," added Ruth Berry, managing director, ITV Studios Global Entertainment. "This year we have seen pre-sales for our epic WWII drama, World On Fire, reach 120 territories and the forthcoming, hugely anticipated The War of the Worlds selling right across the world to over 220 territories before being broadcast in the U.K. With our spellbinding natural history series Magical Land of Oz also finding a home in more than 125 territories, these titles alone support the findings of the report and we are excited about the increasing global appetite for U.K. content."