Scotland's screen sector generated more than £550m in 2019

The value of the Scottish film and TV industry could double to £1bn by 2030, says culture secretary 

By Nia Daniels 23 Jun 2022

Scotland's screen sector generated more than £550m in 2019
Credit: Outlander, David Bloomer/Starz Entertainment

A major new report commissioned by Screen Scotland has revealed the economic value of the screen sector across Scotland, having delivered £567.6 million to the country’s economy in 2019.  

The report was produced by Saffery Champness and Nordicity, the new independent report also found that the screen sector in Scotland provides 10,280 full-time equivalent jobs.

The findings were drawn from a wide range of roles across the industry, including film and TV development and production, animation, VFX and post-production, film and TV distribution, TV broadcast, film exhibition, facilities, equipment, transport, catering and accommodation.  

The report, which covers 2019, the last full year before the onset of Covid and the first full year since the establishment of Screen Scotland, also examined where the screen sector stimulates economic activity elsewhere in the Scottish economy: screen tourism, the education and training sectors and infrastructure.

A follow-up study looking at the state of the sector in 2021 is currently underway for publication early next year.  

Isabel Davis, Screen Scotland’s executive director, said: “A strategy for the Scottish screen sector needs robust numbers – they reveal where there's room for growth, the interdependencies of related sub sectors, along with the spillover benefits to tourism, retail, hospitality and construction. 

“This is the first true benchmark of the value of Scotland’s screen sector and it’s far larger than has been captured by previous studies.  Better still, we see the potential to double GVA by 2030, if investment in local content, production skills and infrastructure continues. 

“Ultimately our goal is to strengthen locally originated production and the many industries that surround it.  The positive interaction between large scale incoming production and the local sector, recently evidenced in productions such as Good Omens and Batgirl, is an important part of that picture.”

David Smith, director of screen at Screen Scotland, added: “This report confirms how strong Scotland’s screen sector was in 2019.

“Significantly the Safferys/Nordicity report also reveals that the UK’s public service broadcasters, particularly the BBC and Channel 4, were the cornerstones in our creative economy in 2019. They spent an estimated £196.6 million on content production in Scotland in 2019, and a further £61.1m on their broadcasting support operations in Scotland, such as transmission, sales and marketing, administration and other overheads.

“The PSBs are vital to the Scottish screen sector’s continued good health, particularly the BBC and Channel 4, the publicly owned PSBS. Between them the BBC and Channel 4 accounted for 87% all PSB expenditure in Scotland in 2019.”


Director and showrunner, Douglas Mackinnon, who was instrumental in steering production on S2 of Good Omens to Scotland, commented: “People who work in the screen sector in Scotland have in their gift a chance to go even further than we already have in our very successful recent period, by supporting large scale productions as well as bringing through Scottish voices with confidence onto an international platform.

“It’s great to see the full value of film and TV recognised in this report. Scottish Government and its agencies across the country will build on this success by continuing to invest seriously in skills and talent, and by responding nimbly and ambitiously to the needs of productions.”

Recent high-profile productions to have shot in Scotland include Batgirl, Borderland, Chemistry of Death, S2 of Good Omens, Anansi Boys, and The Rig.  

Speaking at the launch of the report, Scottish Culture Secretary Angus Robertson said the value of the Scottish TV and film industry could double to £1 billion by the end of the decade.

The work for the report was undertaken with the support of industry partners including the BFI, ONS, Ofcom, public service broadcasters (PSBs), VisitScotland, Companies House filings and D&B Hoovers. 2019 is the latest year that full data can be provided to calculate and analyse the complete economic contribution of the screen sectors. It does not cover the video games sector, nor does it include all of the commercials/corporate sector or online video production. 

The Covid-19 pandemic led to a shutdown of the UK’s film and TV production industry between from March 2020 for about four months. Despite the lengthy hiatus, the overall level of film and HETV production in the UK in 2020 still ended the year at over £2.8 billion and during the first nine months of 2021, film and HETV production spending had already reached £4.7 billion.  More information is available in the BFI’s 2021 Business Report.

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