News | Published February 06 2019

Gaming the driver of British entertainment in record year

2018 was a big year for Britain’s computer games industry, making up half of record revenues from entertainment. Data released by the Entertainment Retailers Association in January said the value of the UK gaming market had risen to £3.9 billion, comprising just over half of a sector that includes cinema and music. 

Hits included Red Dead Redemption 2, developed by Edinburgh-based Rockstar Games. The game, set in the Wild West, took £725 million in three days, the second-biggest opening of all time in the sector. However, the ERA data showed the sales of physical units had contracted by 2.8 per cent, while digital sales had now reached more than 80 per cent of the total. 

ERA Chief Executive Kim Bayley said: “The games industry has been incredibly effective in taking advantage of the potential of digital technology to offer new and compelling forms of entertainment. “Despite being the youngest of our three sectors, it is now by far the biggest.” 

In October there was an answer to a longstanding question about the future of Channel Four. The Conservative party had made a commitment in its 2017 manifesto to move the partly publicly owned broadcaster out of the capital, in an attempt to rebalance Britain’s media industry. After significant disputes between the government and broadcaster a compromise has been reached whereby Channel Four will retain one headquarters in London and gain another based in Leeds. Roughly 200 of the channel’s 800 employees will be moved to west Yorkshire after the city saw off competition from many other parts of the UK, most significantly Birmingham and Manchester, which were also on the shortlist.

“Creative hubs” will be set up in Bristol and Glasgow, employing around 50 people each. In total, half of the programme budget will be spent outside London by 2023, officials announced, up from roughly 35 per cent today. 

Leeds City Council Chief Executive Tom Riordan welcomed the move, and Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, said putting one of the hubs in Glasgow was “fantastic news for Scotland’s screen sector and creative industries”. 

Band of Gold writer Kay Mellor’s production company is based in Leeds, and the writer told the BBC: “Leeds is the perfect fit in terms of location and talent and we’ll all be there with open arms to welcome them to our wonderful city.” However, the editor of trade journal Broadcast, Chris Curtis, told BBC News: “They have talked about moving creative decision-makers out of London but there’s still a sense that the big creative decisions will still be taken in the London HQ. “But I don’t believe C4 are just paying lip service –they genuinely want it to be a success.”

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The Parliamentary Review

February 06 2019

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