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BBC Worldwide posts record profits for 2010-11

Most successful year in taking British content to the world, driving growth and exports to benefit the wider creative industries.

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | July 13, 2011

BBC Worldwide Ltd will today publish its Annual Review for 2010/11 showing a double-digit rise in headline profit – up 10.3% to £160.2m (2009/10: £145.2m), its highest level ever. Profit before tax, including discontinued operations, of £201.2m includes a gain from the exit from a channels investment sold to partner Discovery in November.

The strong levels of growth have helped lift the overall return to the BBC by 8.6% to £181.9m (2009/10: £167.5m).

The results mark BBC Worldwide’s most successful year in taking great British content to the world, driving growth and exports to benefit the wider creative industries. The company grew headline sales by 7.8% to £1157.7m in the 12 months to 31 March 2011 (2009/10: £1074.2m). International sales increased by 9.6% to 55.5% of total headline sales as the business sharpens its focus on international markets.

Digital sales, predominantly online and mobile, increased to 8.1% of net sales. BBC.com, BBC Worldwide’s flagship online property, has seen revenues increase by 113% in the US. In the year ahead, the company will pilot the global BBC iPlayer, develop a bigger games portfolio and launch more mobile services and apps. To date, downloads of BBC Worldwide apps have exceeded 12m, the Top Gear and Doctor Who pages on Facebook have over 11.8 million fans and an average 68 million visitors per month visit its websites.

Announcing the results, John Smith, Chief Executive of BBC Worldwide, said BBC Worldwide’s role in driving growth for the wider UK creative industries and reinvesting money back into the BBC is more important than ever in a tough financial climate.

John Smith said, “This was BBC Worldwide’s most successful year ever in championing great UK content around the globe. By offering world-class British programming and brands that resonate with global audiences, we were able to lift revenues beyond a billion pounds for a third year in succession and also deliver impressive results.”

“These results have enabled BBC Worldwide to return an increased amount back to the BBC - supporting development of world-class, original content in the context of a tighter financial settlement.”

“BBC Worldwide also distributed programmes and formats produced by more than 300 UK independent producers in 2010/11. I am proud of the unique role we play in helping our sectors of the UK creative industries to expand through exports.”

John Smith said the performance was underpinned by BBC Worldwide’s strategy, with progress delivered against all five key strategic objectives:

DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION: “With sales from digital activities, mainly online and mobile, now at 8.1% of total net sales, we are on track to meet our target of 10% by 2011/12.”

BECOMING MORE INTERNATIONAL: “International sales increased by 9.6% to 55.5% of headline sales. We have focused in particular on the English-speaking markets of the USA and Australia. In June 2010, we appointed Herb Scannell to head up our North American businesses and drive further growth. In this context, BBC America had its best year ever with primetime ratings among 25 – 54 year olds up 37% year on year. We are also recruiting EVPs to drive medium-term growth in other key regions including Asia, EMEA and Latin America.”

GROWING THE SCALE OF TV CHANNELS: “Headline sales in the Channels business rose 18.8% with the continued roll-out of BBC-branded channels and improving advertising demand. We launched nine new channels during the year including CBeebies in South Korea, BBC Knowledge in Italy and New Zealand, a dedicated feed for BBC Entertainment in India and BBC HD in a number of markets.”

INCREASED INVESTMENT IN CONTENT: “Headline sales in the Content & Production business rose 9.1%. Core to our mission is delivering high-quality distinctive content to audiences around the world and we invested £101m in acquiring rights to great content during the year. Given the needs of the different markets we serve, we will provide bespoke local programming as well as heavily investing in the best UK productions. We will continue to support emerging independent companies through development finance, co-production deals and international distribution.”

MORE DIRECT CONNECTIONS WITH CONSUMERS: “Understanding consumer preferences and developing a closer relationship with audiences around the world is key to our strategy. Our top five brands – Top Gear, Doctor Who, Lonely Planet, Dancing with the Stars and BBC Earth – account for 27% of the company’s total sales, and around 45% of our sales now come from 12 brands. Over two million people visited a BBC live show somewhere in the world in 2010/11, bringing total attendance at our events to date to over nine million.”

Other highlights in the year included:

  • BBC Worldwide’s DVD business performed extremely well in the UK, despite a challenging market, finishing 2010 as the UK’s fifth-largest distributor and outperforming the market in the US, where overall DVD sales declined;
  • Impartial news and lifestyle information was distributed to a monthly average of 58m users by BBC.com as the site moves rapidly towards profitability;
  • 74,000 hours of high-quality UK programming were sold to over 690 customers from the USA to Kazakhstan to Indonesia.
  • The top five selling programme titles (by value) in 2010/11 were Doctor Who: Series 5, Sherlock: Series 1, Top Gear: Series 15, Top Gear: Series 16 and Human Planet;
  • Overall, BBC Worldwide’s debt fell during the year from £102.6m to £52.3m.

John Smith added, “BBC Worldwide’s results were driven by a number of key factors including continuing success of our programme sales and DVD businesses, growth in our TV channels as well as BBC.com’s excellent momentum towards profitability.”

Robert Webb, Chairman of BBC Worldwide, said, “BBC Worldwide operates as one of the engines of the whole UK creative economy and our record performance last year allowed us to deliver on our core aims. We reinvested £182m back into the BBC and also increased our support of the UK creative economy. We are confident that we will build on our current success in the year to come.”

Info@BestMediaInfo.com

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