Best UK TV Exports: Everything You Need to Know

With UK formats and TV shows becoming more popular on the world stage, you can tell which exports have been the most successful this far. There are four categories for the best UK TV Exports including: 

  • Most-viewed
  • Money-makers
  • Widest reach
  • Better than the originals

Table of Contents

Most Viewed

This category includes some of the most viewed shows. In 2020, the Office (US version) has accumulated 57 billion minutes on Netflix. Besides being the most viewed UK export show, it was the most viewed show on the platform in 2020.

Nonetheless, it is difficult to compete with a few of the unscripted formats from the UK. Strictly Come Dancing or Dancing with the Stars has over 270 seasons across more than 50 nations, generating nearly 500 million viewers globally.

Best UK TV Exports
Best UK TV Exports – Strictly Come Dancing


Money-makers include shows and formats that have made considerable money. One show that tops this list is The Great British Bake Off which airs in 26 markets worldwide including France, Italy, Denmark, and the USA.  

Best UK TV Exports
The Great British Bake Off- One of the Best UK TV Exports

Research done by online casino Betway indicates that last year factual programs made 28% of all export revenue in the UK. The Top Gear from BBC is the largest earning export with £50 million annual revenue generated from 214 regions. It has a large viewership of up to 350 million internationally.

Widest Reach

When it comes to the most popular formats, reality talent shows from studios make the cut. In 2020, Got Talent secured 78 international sales while Strictly Come Dancing made 63 sales. Both Idols and The X Factor had 56 sales. 

UK period dramas have taken the global markets by storm with shows such as Vera and Downtown Abbey making sales in almost 250 regions. Classic series based on crime such as Midsomer Murders and Agatha Christie has over 200 sales individually.

Best UK TV Exports
Downtown Abbey

Since you are here for action movie recommendations, I am sure you are going to love Science Fiction movies and series as well. They are just out of the regular stuff on Television after all. That’s why I am recommending you to check out our list of 30+ Best Sci-fi Movies & Series on Netflix of all time | GodofSmallThing (And each link in the article opens in New Tab so you don’t have to miss out on the current article 🙂 )

Better Than the Originals

In this category, the focus is on adaptations that performed better compared to their UK counterparts. Though the first six-episode season of the Office (US) was similar to the UK’s initial script, the show incorporated an American storyline to address the needs of its local market. By doing so, the second season with 22 episodes brought in a large audience and made way for an incredible nine season show.

Best UK TV Exports
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire

Currently, the US version has an 8.9 IMDb rating with a 26 ranking position when it comes to global popularity. The UK variant has an 8.5 IMDb rating and ranks 558. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? has over 100 variants made outside the United Kingdom. The format has been widely accepted by viewers in the US with a 5.6 million average viewership and 6.5 million for the 2020 reboot finale. That can be compared to the 2018 UK series revival hosted by Jeremy Clarkson which had 5.06 million viewers.

To Sum Up

Video-on-demand platforms like Amazon and Netflix are the largest buyers of UK content. Other significant buyers include free TV and pay-TV. The UK maintains a vast material archive like Midsomer Murders, The Crown, Mr Bean, Downton Abbey, Monty Python, and MasterChef which remain popular in Europe.

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