TV Exports From the UK: Local Shows Gone Global

 October 9, 2021

By  BC Editorial Team

There are a plethora of incredible UK TV shows that the domestic audience loves. But do these formats repeat their success when exported to other markets? Check this research conducted by Betway for some exciting insights into the topic!

From Local Hit to a Globally Recognized Icon

When a show is broadcasted domestically, the producers or TV studios typically try to sell it on international markets so that it can be added to foreign channels. In the UK, this is especially true for shows such as The Chase and Strictly Come Dancing, and Planet Earth, as they were national favorites that had all the chances to repeat their triumph overseas.

UK shows have been demonstrating increasing popularity not only on the domestic scene but also overseas, so we decided to compare the numbers and come up with the list of the currently most successful UK TV exports.

UK’s Top TV Export Markets

UK TV exports brought approximately £1.48 billion ($1.97 billion) last year, with completed shows, such as Doctor Who, Planet Earth, and Downton Abbey is responsible for an astounding 70% of export sales. Besides, international adaptations of renowned shows like Come Dine With Me and Love Island brought the industry 11% of total sales, equaling £160 million ($223 million) in monetary value.

Interestingly, the biggest TV export markets and the revenue received from them in 2020 are:

  1. USA (£466 million)
  2. France (£102 million)
  3. Australia (£98 million)
  4. Canada (£80 million)
  5. Nordics (£77 million)

As you can see, English-speaking countries clearly love UK television shows, with the US, Australia, and Canada being featured in the top-5 largest export markets. UK-tested formats are typically sure to bring good revenues in these countries and are easy to adapt to local audiences.

Among non-English speaking areas, France and the Nordics are currently the most involved in the UK’s TV show scene. Besides, notable growth of interest has been registered in Latin American and Asian countries, with a 13% and 15% rise in streaming volume, respectively.

Most Successful Local Adaptations of UK Shows

It turns out that the UK has plenty of formats to share with spectators worldwide, hence the impressive list of globally renowned TV exports. Below, you will find the list of the most successful shows that were adapted to local formats:

Unscripted TV Shows

This category primarily features talent and reality shows, with the leading titles, such as:

  • Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
  • Come Dine With Me
  • Gogglebox
  • Got Talent
  • Love Island
  • Great British Bake Off
  • Strictly Come Dancing
  • Planet Earth
  • First Dates

Scripted Formats

Scripted shows include dramas, sitcoms, and TV series. The UK formats’ leading local adaptations thus far are:

  • Misfits
  • Chernobyl
  • Luther
  • His Dark Materials
  • Doctor Who
  • The Office
  • Doctor Foster

However, sometimes the shows that are famous domestically don’t match the tastes of the viewers abroad. Some examples are such shows as Skins, The Inbetweeners, and Broadchurch that failed to resonate with spectators in the US.

Most Famous UK Format Exports

Wondering which UK TV exports had the best international performance? Here is the answer:

  1. Highest Revenues – The Great British Bake Off (26 international markets, 28% of the UK’s export revenue in 2020). Top Gear (214 countries, £50 million in export revenue).
  2. Most Views – The Office (US version is the most-watched Netflix show, 57 billion minutes of streaming in 2020). Dancing with the Stars( 500 million viewers worldwide, more than 270 seasons filmed).
  3. Widest Outreach – Got Talent (78 global sales in 2020), Strictly Come Dancing (63 sales), The X Factor (56 sales).
  4. Outperformed the Original – The Office (US adaptation with 8.9 stars on IMDb Vs the UK version with 8.5 stars). Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (US audience of 5.6 million Vs. UK’s 2018 revival series with 5.06 million viewers).

The Future of UK TV Exports

The UK’s TV exports industry is expected to continue its brilliant performance in the future, with an estimated revenue of £87.9 billion by 2025. Despite the EU potentially giving up its position as the UK’s second-biggest TV show export market, there are new opportunities for growth that arise. The UK may further strengthen its presence in other markets, such as Asia, Latin America, and the US.

BC Editorial Team


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