Netflix’s UK shows are “not necessarily aligned to British taste” and cannot be compared to the BBC’s home-grown dramas, according to top media analysts.
In a note issued today, Enders Analysis threw its weight behind the BBC’s value to the wider creative economy and blasted “naive” comparisons between the public service broadcaster and Silicon Valley rivals such as Netflix.
The analysts pointed to the BBC’s status as the largest investor in British TV programmes, with 94 per cent of its £1.3bn budget in 2018 spent on first-run UK-originated content.
Netflix ramped up its spend on British productions to £400m last year and has opened a new UK production hub at Shepperton Studios. However, Enders said this spend formed a small proportion of its output and was not guaranteed by regulation.
In addition, Enders took aim at Netflix over the quality of the US streaming giant’s British productions, which it said was primarily created for an international audience.
“This is programming not necessarily aligned to British taste or a skewing of cultural touchstones,” the note said.
In particular, the research firm blasted Safe — a Netflix adaptation of the hit Harlan Coben crime novel — pointing to the “approximation of a British accent by its US star”.
It also poured scorn on the “full-length lockers and letter sweaters” found in the wildly popular comedy-drama series Sex Education.
Laurie Nunn, who created Sex Education, has said she wanted the show’s setting to be a “teenage utopia that is other-worldly”, adding: “We intentionally made it feel like everywhere and nowhere at the same time.”
Despite its criticisms, Enders acknowledged that the BBC has also faced pressure to produce more culturally-homogeneous content.
Many recent hit dramas including McMafia, The Little Drummer Girl and The Night Manager were co-produced with international partners and were designed to appease foreign broadcasters.
The comments came as the BBC faces growing pressure over its role in a changing media landscape, as more and more viewers turn to streaming rivals.
The government has launched a consultation on whether to decriminalise non-payment of the TV licence fee — a move the BBC has warned would slash £200m from its budget.
In addition to the focus on local content, Enders also supported the BBC’s role in providing non-commercial initiatives and enriching the variety of UK broadcasting.
Ofcom today released a review of public service broadcasters, which outlined shifts in viewing habits over the last five years.
The media regulator will open a consultation into the future of UK broadcasting in the summer before providing recommendations to the government by the end of this year.
Main image credit: Netflix