BBC: Children’s spending, linear viewership dips

The Beeb's annual report shows a shift in viewing habits. Namely, CBBC gets the most iPlayer traffic of all channels, but its content spend dropped by US$2.1 million.
July 13, 2016

The BBC must take more risks and offer more original content, according to the British pubcaster’s 2015/2016 annual report.

The Beeb reported fiscal results ending in March 2016 that showed spending on television content was down overall, while digital spending had increased. Meanwhile, the corporation had a surplus of US$78 million, compared to a deficit of US$165 million last year.

In terms of spending, the BBC doled out roughly US$2.24 billion on TV content, compared to US$2.37 billion last year. Meanwhile, US$202 million was spent on digital content, compared to US$164.2 million last year.

In terms of its kids channels, the pubcaster spent US$38.5 million on CBeebies content last year, up from US$36.7 million in 2014/2015. But the preschool channel’s reach has decreased, with 7.9% of the population watching it compared to 8.2% in 2014/15.

At CBBC, however, spending on content dipped from US$95.6 million in 2014 to US$93.5 million, and the channel’s reach dropped slightly to 4.6% from 4.9% last year.

A clear indication of shifting viewing habits among young Brits, the report shows the number of iPlayer requests for CBBC content is increasing while those watching the CBBC linear channel continues to fall. CBBC has the highest proportion of iPlayer viewing of any BBC television channel, and use of CBBC online has grown to almost one million unique views per week from around 750,000 per week last year.

Overall, BBC revenue came in at US$6.36 billion, compared to US$6.4 billion last year, and the pubcaster’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, brought in sales of US$1.36 billion, up from US$1.32 billion last year, but profits were down US$6.6 million to US$177 million.

According to director-general Tony Hall, the BBC has become a leaner organization that focuses more of its spend on making content. And next year, it will build on its new charter designed to open up more original and UK-bred programming. The pubcaster said it has saved US$820 million through cost-cutting measures and senior management reductions, and it is on track to save US$924 million by March 2017.

With files from Kevin Ritchie.

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