BBC Worldwide sets focus on international, digital growth

Tim Davie

Tim Davie

BBC Worldwide reported “particular growth” in programme sales and its international channels in its 2012/13 annual report, as it sets its sights on further global and digital growth.

Describing its results as a “solid performance in a challenging economic climate”, the BBC’s commercial arm said that its 34 branded international channels continued to drive revenues by launching new operations, widening distribution and increasing advertising sales.

Programme sales, meanwhile, passed the £300 million (€346 million) revenue mark for the first time and “continued to be a formidable source of profit”.

Announcing the results, Tim Davie, chief executive of BBC Worldwide and director, Global, said that “2013/14 will be a transformational year for the company with a re-focused strategy that maximises opportunities presented by new markets and technology.”

Worldwide now has 406m subscriber homes for its TV channels, up from 356 million in 2011-12, and oversaw 15 new launches of its channel brands, including, for the first time, channels in Brazil, Burma and Cambodia.

On the digital side, BBC Worldwide continues to pilot its Global iPlayer initiative in 16 markets, and has now notched up 1.1 billion views to date across its eight YouTube channels – which have 3.4 million subscribers.

Worldwide said it is now focusing on expanding the appeal of its website “beyond news to more accurately show the true breadth of the BBC” and that the next phase of its strategy will see it “deliver the BBC’s world class video content directly to audiences from”

It also said that deals with OTT and VOD services like Netflix and Hulu will be an important type of relationship in years to come.

Davie said that BBC Worldwide’s digital business now represents 13.0% of total turnover.

“Key growth drivers this year are consistent with recent years: Channels continued to grow its revenues through launching new operations, widening distribution and increasing ad sales; Sales & Distribution continued to be a formidable source of profit, with particular growth in Europe, which included the first full year impact of video-on-demand (VOD) sales,” said Davie.

“Over the next twelve months we will continue to focus our efforts on delivering strong performance while further focusing the company on our major growth opportunities. These include the roll-out of global brands and innovations in areas such as digital.”

Overall, for the 12 months to 31 March 2013, Worldwide reported a 1% rise in headline profit to £156 million, while revenue was up 3% to £1,116 million. Worldwide returned £156 million to the BBC in the year, compared to £216 million in 2011-12, however it said this was because last year’s returns included a £73 million one-off dividend relating to the sale of BBC Magazines.