The economic value of post-production in the UK

Audio post production at Gorilla

The post-production sector includes editing, grading, picture and audio finishing, deliverables and international versioning as well as visual effects (VFX). The VFX sector is so large with a prestigious profile that it is often thought of as a sector in its own right. Unfortunately, as a result, the remainder of post-production is often not properly recognised by many sector reports or is submerged when combined with VFX in official statistics.

The VFX sector has a major evaluation of their financial value included in the BFI’s Screen Business report , but the remainder of the post-production sector is not analysed separately. A portion of post business for film or high-end drama is included in the report albeit combined into the full value of film and HETV production.

The last comprehensive analysis of the whole post-production and facilities sector was conducted by Olsberg SPI for UK Screen in 2010; a time before the HETV tax credit and the growth of SVOD networks. The survey provided important data to underpin our campaigns for additions to the screen sector tax credits and proper recognition of our sector within government policy. We urgently need to update that data but it is unlikely that we will be able to finance such a comprehensive study at this time and will have cut our cloth from the available resources.

Televisual magazine produces an annual listing of the Top 50 facility companies ranked by criteria such as size and turnover together with client and peer polls. The economic analysis included in their survey should be viewed with a degree of caution as the results are shown as a league table causing some participants to overstate their capability and turnover to achieve a higher ranking. There are also several big players who do not participate and so while the Televisual survey undoubtably provides good insights into some of the top companies in the sector, it is an incomplete picture.

Official government data gathered by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) recognises post-production as a distinct industrial classification, but this covers the whole of post including VFX and there are no subdivisions. However, these are the National Statistics that the government accept and rely on, so it is important to make sure that they are as accurate as possible.

Businesses are classified by ONS by their Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code. The SIC code for post-production is 59120. Companies self-classify by selecting the most appropriate code and notifying it in their annual Confirmation Statement to Companies House.

In 2016, UK Screen Alliance checked the records at Companies House to see how many post-production businesses were incorrectly classified and discovered over £322m of turnover that was not being recognised as post-production. We wrote to many of those businesses asking them to re-classify into SIC 59120 and many did, resulting in over £50m of turnover being moved to the correct classification which boosted the officially reported value of our sector in National Statistics. There is still over £250m of turnover incorrectly accounted for so we ask post-production business to check the appropriateness of their SIC code when notifying their next Confirmation Statement to Companies House.

2019 ONS statistics for the 59120 SIC code (Motion picture, video and television programme post-production activities)

  • Number of Enterprises: 3,025 (includes all businesses from large enterprises to one person companies)
  • Total Turnover: £1.258 billion
  • Approximate GVA £860 million
  • Number of employees 11,000 (this does not include freelancers, if not registered as limited companies)

Source: ONS Annual Business Survey 2019

Turnover distribution of post-production companies 2022

Turnover size band Number of Enterprises % of Enterprises
£1m -£1.999m652.1%
£2m – £4.999m451.4%
£5m – £9.999m200.6%
£10m – £49.999m200.6%

Source: ONS Inter-Departmental Business Register (March 2022)

Distribution of post-production companies by employent size bands 2022

Employent size band Number of Enterprises % of Enterprises

Source: ONS Inter-Departmental Business Register (March 2022)

Regional distribution of post production enterprises 2022

RegionNumber of Enterprises% of Enterprises
South East59518.8%
South West2106.6%
North West1253.9%
North East200.6%
Yorkshire and Humber652.1%
West Midlands802.5%
East Midlands551.7%
East of England2558%

Source: ONS Inter-Departmental Business Register (March 2022)

UK Screen Alliance SUPPORTERS