Global sales and channel expansion have helped drive record profits for BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC. The company’s 2010/2011 annual review shows a double-digit rise in headline profit – up 10.3% to US$255 million.
The strong levels of growth have helped lift the return back into BBC programming by more than 8%.
The results mark BBC Worldwide’s most successful year in taking British content to the world (the company distributes programs and formats produced by more than 300 UK independent producers). Headline sales grew by 7.8% to US$1.8 billion in the 12 months to March 31, 2011, while international sales increased by 9.6% to 55.5% of total headline sales as the business sharpened its focus on international markets. A total of 74,000 hours UK programming was sold to more than 690 customers, with the top-selling program title being Doctor Who: Series 5.
BBC Worldwide has focused particularly on the English-speaking markets of the US and Australia. Nine new channels were also launched 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.
Digital sales, predominantly online and mobile, increased to 8.1% of net sales. 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 12 million, and top properties like Top Gear and Doctor Who have garnered more than 11.8 million fans on Facebook.
Consumer products, meanwhile, have generated an increase in profits of 13.7%, due to a strong performance by both the physical and digital video businesses. Sales increased slightly to US$374 million.