An In-Depth Look at TV Exports from the UK

The United Kingdom is popular for its appealing shows and trendsetting formats. The UK TV industry has made a name for itself all around the world. According to research carried out by online casino Betway, TV exports in the region hit $1.97 billion.

How Does UK Classic Become Global Icon?

Once a show appeals to a large audience locally, the TV producers or studios look for ways to introduce it to markets worldwide. By doing so, other nations could have the show incorporated into their channels. 

These countries could also use the show’s format in their markets. It explains why some top UK shows have been replicated by studios around the world. Some of these UK favourite shows including Strictly Come Dancing, The Chase, Planet Earth.

With more UK shows making it to global scenes, it is the perfect time to closely assess the landscape. To find the best UK TV exports, you would have to look at several TV formats, game shows, and scripted dramas.

Income from UK TV Exports

In 2020, UK made £1.48 billion from its TV exports. Nearly £1bn which is seventy per cent of these TV sales were from completed shows such as Downton Abbey, Planet Earth, and Doctor Who. Sales from TV shows make up the biggest source of income for the UK. Global adaptations of known UK formats like Come Dine with Me and Love Island made $223 million, eleven per cent of aggregate sales.

To better understand how these TV export sales bring income, you need to know the individual markets accepting these exports. The United States is the largest export market for UK TV shows. In 2020, the UK made $649 million from its sales to the US. North America is the most lucrative region with £572 million in revenue.

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Most English-speaking nations appreciate UK TV shows with Canada and Australia making it to the top five markets for this type of export. The current revenue for Australia and Canada is £98 million and £80 million respectively. With certain UK shows, these nations can gain economic backing while localizing the format for their audience. France makes the largest market for non-English speaking nations. It generates revenue worth £102 million while Nordic brings in £77 million.

In the Asian and Latin American markets, there has been a fifteen and thirteen per cent sales increase in the UK TV shows. The rise could be explained by the many local streaming services like Bilibili in China and GloboPlay from Brazil. These streaming services have introduced platforms for independent shows that would have otherwise missed these markets due to censorship. 


UK producers continue to rely on their most important clientele, streamers, with on-demand services for subscription videos contributing to TV sales. The rest of the client base is constituted by free-to-air television and pay-TV. It comes as no surprise that the largest revenue contributor remains scripted shows.

The UK production of drama films continues to attract an international audience. Drama shows have dominated TV sales with non-scripted factual and entertainment films making their way to the top.

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