Publishers' digital service exports 29% higher than previously thought

Publishers' digital service exports 29% higher than previously thought

The Creative Industries Federation has published a report claiming the true value of the UK's creative digital exports, including from the publishing sector, is much higher than originally thought.

Entitled "The True Value of Creative Industries Digital Exports", the work was researched by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) and the Federation. It argues creative digital services exports represent £21bn to the UK economy - a figure 40% higher than previously suggested in official export reports based on data from the DCMS.

Key findings in the document are that the UK's creative industries export £46bn in goods and services overall (24% higher than official figures), of which £31bn is in services (41% higher than the official figure), and, of those services, two-thirds are digital.

Breaking it down by industry, the report revealed that the publishing sector's total service exports represented £2.63bn to the UK economy, compared to official figures that valued service exports at £2.04bn. Of this, it reported that the digital services exported were undervalued, representing £819m, 29% higher than the £637m previously thought.

The issue with the official figures previously compiled is that they don't capture "'hard to measure' trade flows", such as content viewed through YouTube or accessed globally online.  

The report cited difficulties in capturing and collecting data for business models based around free content generating advertising revenues, namely because it can be challenging to determine the point of sale and, in an increasingly globalised world, the origin of such content and those who consumes it can also be hard to track. 

Hachette UK was cited in the report as one example of a digitally-minded publisher, boasting more than 60,000 products across e-books, audiobooks, apps, games and educational resources. International sales of these products were worth over £25 million in 2017, it said - more than 40% of Hachette UK’s total digital turnover. 

Hachette UK’s deputy group c.e.o. Richard Kitson said that sales of digital products had made a "huge contribution" to its international turnover.

“Digital allows us to reach consumers around the world, including in fast growth markets such as Asia. With over 40% of the world population having access to a smartphone, our authors’ work is always available to billions of potential readers. International sales have made a huge contribution to our position as the number one digital publisher in the UK, and will be a significant driver of Hachette UK’s future growth,” he said.

The report concluded: "The creative industries are central to the UK’s trading future and global ambitions. However, up until now, published figures may not have fully captured the extent to which new digital technologies are changing the way the creative industries export services.

"This research highlights that the creative industries are exporting a far more significant range and volume of digital services than previously thought. It outlines a methodology, tailored to the nature of the creative sector, that more comprehensively captures the extent of creative digital exports by incorporating 'hard to measure' trade flows." 

The report can be read in full here.