It was just like a cliff hanger scene in a film. Britain was on the brink of an ‘official recession,’ which is defined by two consecutive quarters of negative growth. It shrank by 0.2 percent in the second quarter and was expected by most leading economists to shrink in the third quarter. And then…the film and TV industry came to the rescue.
Output rose by 0.3 percent in the third quarter due to the film and TV industry outperforming the broader service sector. Furthermore, the film and TV industry has been outperforming other services for over two years and is making the single largest contribution to growth.
From 2010 to 2017 the size of Britain’s creative industries grew by 53% - twice as fast as the overall economy. There are numerous reasons for this incredible success story. The major streaming services and studios, who have what seems unlimited deep pockets, have ploughed investment into the UK. Netflix has effectively taken over Shepperton and Disney has struck a 10-year deal with Pinewood. Meanwhile, Warner continues to expand at Leavesden.
Apart from having the simple advantage of being an English-speaking nation, the language most in demand for film and TV, there are generous tax incentives for producers. A qualifying eligible UK production will attract a tax refund (yes- cash in hand) of up to 20% of the total budget. That is a generous by all international standards.
So why the big investment into film and TV? Well, it’s simple, people have more time to view content and can view on the go by using mobile devices such as phones and iPads.
In 1870 the average full time working week in Britain was 60 hours. If that sounds tough, just think about the Americans who were working 66 hours a week, whilst the Germans, perhaps not unexpectedly, worked even longer weeks 70hours. Today, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development calculate the average UK working week to be 40 hours.
Back to the film and TV industry, it is of note to observe that the industry contributes £1 in every £8 of the UK’s exports and employs two million Britons of which 87% are reckoned to be robot proof. The Times leader on 11th October noted that machines might replace train drivers, accountants, and even reporters but they cannot replace Patrick Melrose.
Well done you creatives! Let the show run and run.