With the UK creating shows played globally, it’s no surprise that the county’s TV export market soared to a whopping £1.48 billion last year. But how did this happen?

Shows that do well in the domestic market have the potential to be successful internationally. This drives the TV studios and producers to sell it to the international market, so other countries that want to replicate these shows’ success can either directly add the channel or tailor it to their specific audience.

In this article, Betway will discuss how beloved UK shows reach international screens.

UK Shows and the UK Economy

To visualize just how important TV exports are for the UK economy, it contributes to 70% of the country’s export revenue, even surpassing the £1 billion mark.

Because it’s easier to customize the shows to English-speaking countries, top consumers of UK TV shows include the US, Canada, and Australia. When it comes to the non-English markets, France and the Nordics follow.

Because of the development of local streaming services in previously censored markets, there has also been an increase in UK TV exports in Latin America and the Asian markets.

Most Popular UK Shows That Reached International Markets

The UK shows come in two formats:


Scripted shows include sitcoms, dramas, and series, with the most popular being:

  • The Office
  • Chernobyl
  • His Dark Materials
  • Doctor Foster
  • Misfits
  • Doctor Who
  • Luther

Although many of those listed above found success in broadcast TV and streaming services, it doesn’t always happen that way. This is primarily associated with the unchanged scripts that non-Brit audiences fail to connect with.


Reality TV, survival, and talent competitions fall under the Unscripted category. Renowned ones include:

  • Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
  • Love Island
  • Got Talent
  • Strictly Come Dancing
  • Planet Earth
  • Great British Bake Off
  • Come Dine With Me
  • Gogglebox
  • First Dates

Scripted shows are the major contributor to UK TV exports, but Unscripted ones don’t fall behind either. In 2020, the UK held the top rank in producing this format, making up 42% of global export sales.

Legendary UK TV Exports

Wondering what’s best of the best when it comes to UK TV exports? Here are UK shows that reached and stayed on top, divided into four categories:

Greatest Revenue

The Great British Bake Off – Licensed to 26 international markets including the US, Denmark, Italy, and France, it generated 28% of the UK’s export income in 2020.

Top Gear – It earns £50 million in revenue from 21 countries annually and has 350 million audiences globally.

Most Viewed

The Office (US) – A mockumentary sitcom that accumulated 57 billion minutes of streaming on Netflix during 2020 alone.

Dancing with the Stars (Strictly Come Dancing) – With over 270 seasons in 50 countries, it’s no wonder that it has 500 million viewers worldwide.

Widest Reach

Studio-based reality talent shows:

  • Got Talent
  • Strictly Come Dancing
  • The X Factor
  • Idols

Period dramas:

  • Downtown Abbey
  • Vera

Classic crime series:

  • Agathe Christie’s Poirot
  • Midsomer MurdersBetter Than the Originals

The Office (US) – Although the six-episode season matched the original script, the show quickly realized the need for the sitcom to be Americanized to fit the local audience, paving the way for successful nine seasons.

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? – Over 100 countries outside the UK have already produced their own version of this well-loved game.

The Future of UK TV Exports

It’s projected that the UK’s entertainment and media revenue will rise to £87.9 billion in 2025, increasing the quantity and quality of UK shows and boosting sales of TV exports.

However, factors such as subscription video on demand (SVOD) and Brexit pose changes to the UK exports, both creating challenges and opportunities the UK needs to manage and take advantage of.