Savills: Globalising media industry, accelerated by Covid 19, set to see new locations emerge to rival Hollywood

•    Established ‘media cities’ Los Angeles, New York, and London claim top three positions in Savills new rankings

•    Challenger markets like Atlanta, Montreal, and Paris each perform well with diverse strengths

•    The global shift to streaming, accelerated by Covid-19, has made media industries increasingly tech-reliant, and increased demand for content produced from previously more niche locations including Seoul, South Korea, and Lagos, Nigeria (‘Nollywood’)

•    Demand for soundstages and production lots set to increase as more platforms look to own their space, with studio and office provision continuing to be key

Los Angeles, New York and London top Savills first ‘Media Cities’ ranking, examining the key cities around the world where films, television, and music are produced, edited, and consumed. Atlanta, Beijing, Mumbai (the home of Bollywood) and Paris are just outside the top three, but new challenger locations are also quickly establishing themselves, says Savills, as audiences embrace content not produced in their native languages and the industry becomes increasingly globalised and democratised through the use of technology.

Lagos, Buenos Aires, and Dublin, currently ranked 20th, 17th and 16th respectively, are some of the cities highlighted by Savills as likely to rise up the ranks in the coming years. Looking longer term the international real estate advisor references Singapore; Cape Town; Albuquerque, US; Manchester, UK; and Changsha, Hengdian and Xiangshan in China as locations not yet ranked, but which are likely to benefit from the expanding globalised landscape in the coming years.

Figure 1 – Media Cities 2020 Rankings, Savills World Research

With continuing Covid-19 restrictions making it hard to consume media and cultural content live, consumers have increasingly turned to streaming services, accelerating a trend long underway, says Savills. As a result, productions which used to be considered too regional or niche can now be viewed by increasingly global audiences who previously might not have been exposed to some of this content – so-called ‘K-Dramas’ being streamed on many non-Korean speaking versions of Netflix, for instance – which will diversify production to areas outside the traditional core media cities, according to Savills.

Sophie Chick, director, Savills World Research, comments: “The industry was already changing before the pandemic, but rocketing demand for content this year and the increasing importance of technology are both having profound effects on how and where media is produced. Established centres and challenger cities each offer unique advantages and opportunities. Traditional core locations still lead both the industry and our rankings, but looking ahead, a more globalised media industry will provide both a wealth of new geographies from which to build a media sector, increase content for consumers and a resilience against future uncertainty.”

Studio costs and availability, prime office rents, and the cost of living all factor in to decisions about where media companies choose to locate both production and office space, says Savills. Higher living costs also affect where workers choose to move for employment opportunities, however, there is a balance to be struck as many of the most expensive cities offer a wealth of creative talent and opportunities for creativity and new ideas. Of Savills 20 Media Cities, New York has the highest cost of living, and Mumbai (Bollywood) has the lowest (figure 2). Beijing (5th in Savills overall Media Cities ranking), Montreal (6th) and Madrid (7th) all appear near the bottom of the table for living costs, implying that they could rise up the rankings if the cost of living for creative talent becomes a more important factor in media production in the coming years.

Joshua Gorin, Vice President and Los Angeles Office Lead, adds: “The industry is shifting towards long term control of soundstages and production lots rather than renting out space on an as-needed for a project’s duration. Netflix has signed a production deal with Shepperton Studios in the UK and purchased ABQ Studios in New Mexico in an effort to grow its production capability, for instance. New studio space is scarce in Los Angeles, pushing many production companies further afield, while in London, New York, Atlanta, and New Zealand disused industrial warehouses and distribution facilities are being converted into studios to meet demand. More innovative use of space, plus expansion into areas where real estate costs are low but creative and tech talent is present, are set to be two of the key trends in the sector over the next decade.”

Figure 2 – Savills Media Cities by cost of living, Savills World Research using Numbeo

Jarosław Pilch, Head of Tenant Representation, Office Agency, Savills Poland says: “Films and television programmes are produced in Poland almost exclusively for the local market. As a result, Poland can hardly compete with the world’s film industry capitals. In addition to television broadcasters and producers of feature films, there are also many smaller studios that produce commercials, content for leading online talents, and increasingly popular professional webinars. As streaming platforms continue to grow, it is likely that they will be looking for places to locate global shared services centres – this is an area where Poland has been valued by tech companies for years.”