COBA: UK multichannel investment in content passes £1bn milestone

Investment in UK content by multichannel broadcasters has now surpassed £1 billion annually, according to a report commissioned by commercial broadcasters’ organisation COBA.

According to the report, investment in UK programmes by multichannel broadcasters has now hit £1.1 billion (€1.2 billion) a year, highlighting increased investment by newer channels alongside the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

The study by Oliver & Ohlbaum found that Investment in UK content by multichannel broadcasters has grown by 75% on 2011, yielding an increase in annual investment by multichannel broadcasters of £416 million. Investment in UK content by multichannel broadcasters has grown significantly faster than that of Public Service Broadcasters, with the majority of investment – £965 million in 2017 – is on new UK content.

According to the report, the multichannel sector spent £447 million in 2017 on commissions from external producers.

COBA’s chair Heather Jones said: “This report signals the coming of age of the multi-channel TV industry. It is not just about the record levels of spend; it is also about creative competition and plurality, giving opportunities to a greater array of voices than ever before. Along with the thriving UK production sector, the biggest beneficiaries are UK viewers – who now have an even better and broader choice of excellent British TV shows to watch than ever before.”

COBA highlighted what it sees as threats to this investment in the form of new advertising restrictions, Ofcom’s proposals to ensure continued prominence for public service broadcasters in programming guides, and Brexit, which could see a number of broadcasters relocate.

“A successful mixed ecology of different types of players is a particular strength of the UK television sector and this game changing level of investment shows the benefits that come from that. But COBA members invest in UK programming without direct or indirect public support in the form of the licence fee, EPG prominence or privileged access to spectrum. Multichannel investment is directly linked to channels’ ability to generate a commercial return, notably via advertising and subscription revenues, and undermining that ability will inevitably make it harder for broadcasters to invest in content,” said Adam Minns, COBA executive director.

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