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UK Product Placement Newsletter – February 2023

THIS MONTH'S HIGHLIGHTS

Welcome to the UK Product Placement Newsletter, a round-up of global stories and industry news from across the last few weeks!

  • German war movie All Quiet on the Western Front sweeps the BAFTA Film Awards and makes history for foreign-language movies, an achievement that proves global content remains hot property. Foreign language is no longer a barrier for content consumers who are now, more than ever, enjoying immersing themselves in productions from all over the world.
  • Amidst talks of a new UK “studio tax” which could threaten the UK’s booming production industry, new and boosted tax breaks in Scandinavia are drawing in a growing number of productions.
  • The success of BBC’s Happy Valley has inspired Sky Studios to seek their own, shifting to a “fewer, bigger, better” approach to the shows it commissions and produces this year.
  • Netflix properties continue their domination of the U.S. Nielsen streaming charts, with Ginny & Georgia drawing 1.8B minutes viewed from January 16 – 22 and taking the No. 1 spot.
Clarksons Farm on Amazon Prime
Season Two's premiere was Amazon's most-watched original show in the UK.

FILM STUDIOS SET FOR CRUNCH TALKS OVER PROPERTY TAX THAT COULD “TORPEDO” UK STATUS AS HOLLYWOOD RIVAL

Britain’s biggest film studios are preparing for crunch talks with a government agency amid fears that a so-called “studio tax” could “torpedo” the UK’s booming production industry. Pinewood is among an informal task force of UK studios that has been working with the British Film Commission (BFC) to avert potentially huge increases in property taxes. Representatives for the studios are due to meet with the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) this week to set out their concerns. The VOA has redrafted UK studios’ “rateable values,” an assessment of the amount a property would rent for if it were available on the open market. Rateable values are used to calculate business rates, a tax on non-domestic properties. The higher the rateable value, the higher the business rate. READ MORE

'ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT’ DOMINATES BAFTA AWARDS WITH RECORD-BREAKING SEVEN WINS

“All Quiet on the Western Front” dominated the BAFTA Awards in London on Sunday night with a record-breaking seven wins, including for Best Director, Best Film and Best Film Not in the English Language. The tally means the World War One epic now holds the record for a film not in the English language. The previous record was held by 1988 film “Cinema Paradiso,” which won five BAFTAs. “The Banshees Of Inisherin” won the second largest number of awards of the night, including both supporting actor categories with wins for Barry Keoghan and Kerry Condon. The top acting awards of the night went to Cate Blanchett and Austin Butler for their respective turns in “Tár” and “Elvis.” READ MORE

BRITBOX INTERNATIONAL REACHES 3 MILLION SUBSCRIBERS, CELEBRATES ‘SUPER SUCCESSFUL’ BAFTAS SIMULCAST

BritBox International has reached three million subscribers across its eight international markets. The “best of British” streamer, which is backed internationally by BBC and ITV, has reached its latest milestone across the U.S., Canada, Australia, South Africa, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland. (The service launched in the U.K. in November 2019 but split off from the global operation in 2022 and is now integrated into ITV’s streaming offering, ITVX.) The streamer was the exclusive U.S. home for the BAFTAs. The British awards ceremony was also made available on BritBox in Canada, South Africa and the Nordics. READ MORE

SKY SEEKING NEXT ‘HAPPY VALLEY’ AS CONTENT BOSS ZAI BENNETT TEASES LESS IS MORE APPROACH

Sky is seeking inspiration from Happy Valley for its next hit show as programs boss Zai Bennett says the pay-TV giant is taking a ‘less is more’ approach to original content. Speaking at a Broadcasting Press Guild event, Sky Studios Director of Original Drama Meghan Lyvers said conversations are taking place with producers about shows that have “an investigative spine with complicated, dysfunctional, flawed, human and relatable characters at the center,” evoking Happy Valley star Sarah Lancashire’s Catherine Cawood. Happy Valley ended this month with a whopping 7.5 million overnight viewers, the highest rated show of the year so far. Having greenlit 200 originals in 2022 and upped content investment to £500M ($601M), Sky UK and Ireland Managing Director of Content Zai Bennett said the outfit is now taking a “fewer, bigger better” approach to the shows it commissions and produces. Of those 200 originals, only around 20 were high-end scripted, he stressed. READ MORE

GOOD DEALS IN SCANDINAVIA BOOST TV, FILM SHOOTS

New and boosted tax breaks, plus state-of-the-art facilities and a lean, skilled crew base are drawing a growing number of productions to Scandinavia, a region whose content continues to be in high demand both locally and globally. Denmark remains the exception and does not offer tax incentives or rebates for film and TV production. In addition, its production studios have been hard hit by a war over rights between talent and streamers that brought TV production to a virtual standstill in 2022. Iceland, on the other hand, which upped its tax incentive from 25% to 35% last year, has seen its film industry grow by a whopping 85% over five years. An added benefit for productions is a 25% incentive for music recording, which includes studio costs, travel and lodging. READ MORE

‘THE LAST OF US’ DEBUTS AT NO. 6 ON NIELSEN STREAMING CHARTS, OUTPACING ‘HOUSE OF THE DRAGON’ VIEWERSHIP

The Last Of Us officially hit the Nielsen streaming charts for the week of January 16 to January 22 with 837M minutes viewed (No. 6). That outpaces viewership for another HBO hit, House of the Dragon, in the same interval. Despite premiering the week prior, the series didn’t make the charts because Episode 1 had only been available for a few hours when Nielsen’s measurement window closed. However, Nielsen did note that in just those few hours, the Pedro Pascal-led series accumulated 223M viewing minutes. Nielsen streaming measurements only account for viewing on HBO Max, so these numbers don’t reflect any viewership on HBO’s linear channel. Netflix dominated the top of the Nielsen charts for the week, with Ginny & Georgia drawing 1.8B minutes viewed and taking the No. 1 spot. That was one of three programs to generate over 1B viewing minutes. The others were That ’90s Show with 1.6B and The Walking Dead with 1.1B. READ MORE

UNIONS, INDUSTRY BODIES & GOVERNMENTS AGREE ON FRAMEWORK TO PROTECT ENTERTAINMENT WORKERS’ RIGHTS AFTER CRUNCH TALKS IN EUROPE

Major international arts and entertainment unions, employers, industry bodies and governments have agreed on their first framework for a decade to improve workers’ rights after a week of tough negotiations in Europe. The high-level technical meeting, which took place February 13-17 at the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland, was the first for the entertainment biz since 2014, according to the UNI Global Union. The ILO is a United Nations agency that tries to make work fairer and more just. First signs from the meeting were of a positive outcome and a blueprint aimed at addressing ‘decent work deficits’ has been forged which includes limiting working time; providing all staff workers and freelancers universal access to comprehensive social protections systems and using public funding to close skills shortages. READ MORE

STUDIOCANAL, WORKING TITLE’S ‘WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?’ SNAPPED UP BY SHOUT! STUDIOS FOR U.S., CANADA DISTRIBUTION

Shout! Studios has acquired U.S. and Canada rights to Studiocanal and Working Title’s cross-cultural British romantic comedy “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” with a view to releasing it in late spring.  Directed by veteran Indian filmmaker Shekhar Kapur (“Elizabeth”), “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” follows documentary-maker and dating app addict Zoe (Lily James), for whom swiping right has only delivered an endless stream of Mr Wrongs, to her eccentric mother Cath’s (Emma Thompson) dismay. For Zoe’s childhood friend and neighbours Kaz (Shazad Latif), the answer is to follow his parents’ example and opt for an arranged (or “assisted”) marriage to a bright and beautiful bride from Pakistan (Sajal Aly). As Zoe films Kaz’s journey from London to Lahore to marry a stranger, chosen by his parents, she begins to wonder if she might have something to learn from a profoundly different approach to finding love. READ MORE

‘CLARKSON’S FARM’ BREAKS UK VIEWING RECORDS FOR AMAZON PRIME VIDEO AFTER MEGHAN MARKLE SCANDAL

Clarkson’s Farm has become Amazon Prime Video’s most-watched original show in the UK since the country’s ratings body started collecting data for major streaming services. The Season 2 premiere of Jeremy Clarkson’s farming show was watched by nearly 4.3M viewers on TV sets, according to Barb, the official audience research group.This was comfortably Amazon’s highest-rated show since Barb began reporting viewing figures for streamers in November 2021, per a Deadline analysis. It beat The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, which launched last September with 3.2M viewers. Clarkson’s Farm ranked 16th in a list of the most-watched shows in the UK for the week to February 12, meaning it topped network giants including The Brit Awards and Love Island on ITV. Clarkson’s Farm episodes two and three also featured in Barb’s top 50 shows for the week in question, garnering nearly 3.8M and 3.3M viewers respectively. The figures only include people watching on television sets, meaning that viewing on mobile devices does not feature in the numbers. READ MORE

Special thanks to Hannah Butters for her contribution to the UK Product Placement Newsletter – February 2023.

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