The United Kingdom is the leading supplier of television channels in Europe. Of over 9,000 television channels available in the European Union, 1,659 of them are established in the United Kingdom. An informitv analysis of the European Audiovisual Observatory MAVISE database shows that the United Kingdom is the established base for more television channels than any other country in Europe.
In comparison, over 800 channels are established in Spain, over 700 in France, over 650 in Germany and over 600 in Italy. These five countries account for around half the television channels established in Europe.
These numbers include regional and national channel versions, as well as local or city channels. The United Kingdom contributes over a quarter of the international, national and regional channels available across Europe.
The United Kingdom is a European base for many American broadcasters, such as 21st Century Fox, CBS, Discovery, NBC Universal, Time Warner, Viacom, and Walt Disney. Many of their channels target one or more European countries outside the United Kingdom.
London is also the corporate base for Sky and Liberty Global, the two largest pay television providers in Europe.
Only 600 or so of over 1,600 channels established in the United Kingdom are available through a service provider in that country, although that is the highest number for any European country.
Over 270 free to view channels established in the United Kingdom are available through a service provider in that country, which is again the highest number for any European country.
Only around 30 channels available in the United Kingdom through a service provider are established in another European country.
The United Kingdom is by far the largest net exporter of television channels in Europe. It is also a major hub for the European distribution of television programming through sales to other broadcasters and other platforms.
American networks in particular benefit from the ability to distribute their programming across Europe through the United Kingdom.
That is not necessarily dependent upon the United Kingdom being part of the European Union. Language is also a factor. However, the United Kingdom, and London in particular, generally benefits from being seen as a distribution hub for the European market.
Europe remains a fragmented market for television and video, partly because of the historically territorial nature of broadcasting. The European Commission would like to see a single digital market across Europe, but that remains problematic because of the ways in which programming rights and distribution have evolved.
Although thousands of television channels are available across Europe, including over 1,200 free to air channels on the SES and Eutelsat satellites, most people generally only have access to channels from their national market and in some cases neighbouring countries.
The European Audiovisual Observatory MAVISE database holds data on television channels and on-demand audiovisual services available in Europe.