The amount of money generated by UK indies fell in the latest measurement period fell as with a drop in UK commissions and international revenues.
After a decade of growth, in which indie revenues have grown 81%, the latest figures from industry trade group Pact reveal a 4.2% decline in total indie revenues of £2.9 billion (US$4.5 billion) in 2014.
Pact gathers the figures by conducting a census among its members. It said the revenue reverse could be attributed to a fall in UK commissions from multichannel services and new media and in international sales.
Pact added that its census sample has changed, which might have adversely impacted the total revenue number, and that 2013 was a standout year in terms of multichannel commissioning spend.
The indies’s international revenues fell from £939 million to £891 million in 2014 with commissions thinner on the ground but sales of finished programmes holding up.
The proportion of commissioning spend commanded by the large indies fell in the year as their smaller counterparts took greater market share. Small- and medium-sized producers accounted for 34% of the commission spend in 2014, a 10% increase year on year.
John McVay, chief executive of Pact, said: “This growth in share of commissioning spend by smaller indies is impressive given the overall decline in revenues. It shows how smaller indies are working hard with lower margins and taking more risk in a tough market to continue to produce great British programmes”.
Pact said that against a backdrop of broadcasters funding a smaller proportion of programme budgets, its members were contributing significantly more deficit funding.
Laura Mansfield, chair of Pact and managing director of indie Outline Productions, said: “I’m delighted to see that smaller indies are growing share of commissioning, but the level of deficit now being brought by indies of all sizes has also grown – showing the increased level of risk and investment required to get ideas to air.