The digital age has given small businesses and freelance creatives a way to export their services in a way that was unimaginable a few decades ago. Now a new report says creative digital exports are worth an astonishing £21bn to the UK.
The report is based on research undertaken by the Creative Industries Federation (CIF) and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), sponsored by the Creative Industries Council (CIC) and supported by the Department for International Trade. It includes contributions from creative businesses and members of the Federation and CIC from across the UK.
Although the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) issue data on exports by the creative industries, there was concern that their figures do not capture ‘hard to measure’ trade flows, such as content viewed through YouTube, downloaded digitally or accessed globally on online newspapers and publications.
The new research from the CIF and Cebr revealed that:
- The UK’s creative industries export £46bn in goods and services – 24% higher than the official figure
- £31bn of total creative exports are services – 41% higher than the official figure
- £21bn of these creative services are digital services – 40% higher than the official figure
- Creative digital services represent 68% of total creative services exports
John Kampfner, chief executive of the Creative Industries Federation said: “Digital is the future and the creative industries are leading the way. And, while the scale may be international, the impact is local. Last year creative jobs grew by 25% in Yorkshire and the West Midlands, with regional economies, from Scotland to the West Midlands all growing faster than London.”
A worldwide audience
On YouTube, the leading video content platform, the UK is already one of the biggest content exporters. 78% of all views on videos uploaded in the UK are watched by users in a different country.
Similarly, game developers or ‘createch’ entrepreneurs can make their apps available to the whole world simply by publishing them on an app store. AppyNation is run by a team of 11 people based in Leamington Spa and London. Their puzzle games are completely digital and available only on the App Store, Amazon and Google Play platforms. Games are free to download, and revenue is generated through in-app purchases (IAP). 79.5% of the IAP revenues are non-UK sales, expected to rise to 90% by 2020.
Publishing is also an area in which the digital age has both revolutionised the industry and increased the UK’s exporting power. The Hachette UK Group, the UK’s leading digital publisher, has more than 60,000 products including ebooks, audiobooks, apps, games and educational resources.
International sales of these products were worth over £25 million in 2017, which represents more than 40% of Hachette UK’s total digital turnover. Hachette UK products are sold in over 190 countries and territories, through over 60 retailers ranging from local bookshops to international e-commerce websites, and in nearly two dozen currencies.
Nicola Mendelsohn, chair of the Creative Industries Council said: “This report demonstrates that all sectors of the UK’s creative industries are using the opportunities that digital technology provides to increase their sales, innovate and reach new audiences who are hungry for UK products and services.”
How does your business benefit from digital opportunities? Have they allowed you to export more products or reach new audiences? If not, there could be a vast untapped market out there – so how could you find ways to make digital exports work for you?