BBC director general warns of £500m “threat” to British TV from Netflix and Amazon

Growth of US on demand services could lead to a £500 million black hole in British TV production within a decade warns Tony Hall

The Crown - Netflix publicity still, BD

Thie rise of on demand giants like Netflix and Amazon is threatening the future of British programmes such as Sherlock and Doctor Who, the BBC’s director general will warn in a speech today.

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Tony Hall is due to give a speech in Liverpool warning of the “serious threat” due to changes taking place in the industry as the rise of Netflix, Amazon and Apple threaten a dramatic fall in investment in home-grown television

Favourite British shows such as Strictly Come Dancing and Britain’s Got Talent made by British ‘terrestrial’ broadcasters will be affected according to Hall, who warned that the amount spent on British TV could fall by around £500m a year over the next ten years.

The drop – around than 20 per cent of the total spend on British-made programmes for the British market – would drastically reduce the amount and quality of the country’s favourite shows, Hall will say, according to a briefing issued by the BBC.

The £500m hole in funding has been identified in a report by consultants Mediatique, which was specially commissioned by the Corporation to look into the future of the industry.

Hall will describe the findings as “worrying” and add: “We have to face the reality that the British content we value and rely upon is under serious threat.”

In his speech, to be given at John Moores University, Hall will point out that the most watched programmes on British television this year were all made in Britain: One Love Manchester, the concert after the Manchester bombing, Broadchurch, Britain’s Got Talent, Sherlock and Strictly Come Dancing.

And while Netflix has been reported to have spent as much as £100 million on the first two seasons of its epic British period drama series The Crown, Hall will say this kind of investment is the exception rather than the norm: “The reality is that their investment decisions are likely to focus increasingly on a narrow range of very expensive, very high-end content – big bankers that they can rely on to have international appeal and attract large, global audiences.

“Even the most generous calculations suggest they are barely likely to make up half of the £500m British content gap over the decade ahead. And a more realistic forecast points to substantially less.

“The BBC has always shown a great ability to adapt to new challenges and make them opportunities. If we get the response right now, and the rest of the industry does the same, then we can safeguard the future of homegrown content and, rather than British content diminishing, we can kickstart a new golden age for British production.”

Hall will also point out that ten years ago, around 83 per cent of independent production companies in the UK were either UK or European-owned. Today it is less than 40 per cent, with the rest owned by US multinationals, he will say.

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“Increasingly, it is decisions taken on the west coast of the US that are shaping our TV landscape here,” Hall will say.