BBC Worldwide sees 26% rise in distribution profits

BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the British public broadcaster, has recorded healthy annual financial results with its international distribution business recording a 26% rise in profits.

The company saw its annual revenues reach £1.07 billion (US$), an increase of 7% on the previous year, with net profits rising 36.5% to £145 million.

It also moved closer to its goal of recording 66% of its revenues from outside of the UK by 2012 with 55% of revenues now made internationally.

The company’s sales and distribution arm recorded sales of £214.8 million, with a profit of £57.9 million, up from £45.8 million last year. “This was a good performance given that many customers froze or reduced their content budgets. In 2009/10 the team sold around 60,000 hours of programming including 9,000 hours to digital platforms. Profits increased mainly as a result of increased volumes, higher margin licensing deals and exchange rate benefits caused by a weak sterling,” said chief executive John Smith.

The top five programme brands in 2009/10 were Top Gear, Life, Planet Earth, Being Erica and Doctor Who.  

BBC Worldwide also saw its international formats business develop with sales increasing from £83.9 million to £94.2 million helped by the commission of a US version of Top Gear, which will launch on History.  “The format business will focus on growing output from its production bases and partnerships around the world. In the US there will be a concerted drive to greenlight scripted formats and, in the UK, we will continue to identify strong investment opportunities, and help the BBC and the independent sector supplement production budgets,” he added.