Netflix has doubled its spending in the UK to $1B (£750M) this year following the success of British-made shows including The Crown, The Witcher, and Sex Education.
Netflix’s global TV chief Bela Bajaria hinted at plans to continue investing in a big way in UK content during a Q&A with Deadline last month, and now the streaming giant has confirmed that it increased its budget by 100% on last year’s figure of $500M.
A Netflix spokesman said: “The UK is an incredibly important market to Netflix and we’re proud to be increasing our investment in the UK’s creative industries.
“The Crown, Sex Education and The Witcher are among the shows that have been made in the UK this year and will be watched by the world. And these shows are a testament to the depth of talent that exists here.”
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“We will continue to invest in the best content in every genre, and are fully committed to supporting British production and creative talent for many years to come.”
The UK is comfortably Netflix’s biggest market outside of the U.S. and the company has forged strong ties with the independent production community in the UK, commissioning across drama (Left Bank Pictures’ The Crown), entertainment (Talkback’s Too Hot To Handle), and factual (Knickerbockerglory’s American Murder: The Family Next Door).
The streamer is also striking exclusive deals with UK creatives. The streamer signed an overall deal with The Crown creator Peter Morgan last year, while in July, it invested in Black Mirror creators Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones’ new production outfit Broke And Bones in a first-of-its-kind deal for the streamer in the UK.
And only last month, Netflix secured the services of another The Crown creative, tying-up Suzanne Mackie’s new production company Orchid Pictures on an exclusive deal. Mackie will create new films and TV series for Netflix after working at Left Bank Pictures for nearly 12 years.
The investment is broadly welcomed, but has sparked some concerns among UK industry insiders. Netflix has gone about signing these exclusive deals stealthily and did not formally announce any of them, potentially showing that it is sensitive to criticism that it is hoovering up local talent to the detriment of local broadcasters and producers.
Reflecting on Netflix’s presence in Britain last month, Bajaria told Deadline: “The UK is one of the best places in the world for film and TV production and I’m proud Netflix is a growing part of that ecosystem.” Bajaria confirmed that Anne Mensah will remain head of series in the UK as part of her executive reshuffle.