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BBC Worldwide notches another billion pound year as profits rocket

BBC Worldwide has reported record revenues and profit in its latest annual results. The commercial arm of the UK public broadcaster recorded revenues of £1.2 billion in the year to end-March – an increase on the £1.1 billion recorded a year earlier and the third straight year that sales have topped £1 billion. Profit for the 2010/2011 period was up sharply at £167 million compared with £92.2 million in 2009/2010.

“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,” chief executive John Smith said.

The company set out five key strategic objectives: driving digital growth; becoming more international; growing the TV channels business; increasing investment in new content; and developing a more direct connection with consumers. It will continue to invest in BBC and indie-produced content and to take minority stakes in indies to further these aims, it said.

Worldwide said there has been a particular focus on Australia and the US although programme sales revenue and profit declined in the latter. US sales and distribution revenues fell to £52 million from £67.5 million a year earlier while profit was £1.2 million compared with £4.8 million. Worldwide said the decrease was attributable to renegotiating coproduction agreements with Discovery following the sale of its share of Animal Planet last November.

Overall sales and distribution revenues and profit were, however, up as the EMEA and Asia Pacific figures lifted the total. Revenue increased to £230.5 million from £223.2 million and profit to £58.8 million from £51.6 million with Sherlock, Top Gear and Doctor Who cited as strong performers.

Worldwide’s channels division increased revenue to £312 million from £262.2 million a year earlier and profits to £40.1 million from £39.2 million. Profitability was up in Asia and the Americas, but declined in the EMEA region despite a healthy revenue increase, reflecting the absence of Worldwide’s share of Animal Planet profits.

Orders for BBC Worldwide formats in France and India helped the company to drive a revenue increase at its Content & Production division, which reported sales of £102.8 million compared with £94.2 million a year earlier. Profit slipped to £7.6 million from £17.6 million a year earlier with Worldwide blaming increased costs associated with the US version of its hit format Dancing with the Stars, which is on the ABC network, and the cost of setting up its new LA-based production facility.