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BBC Worldwide delivers fourth successive year of double-digit profit growth

Results for 12 months to 31st March 2008: Operating profits up 17% to £117.7m.


Growth reflects strong results from established operations alongside progress in both new businesses and priority markets.


BBC Worldwide Ltd, the commercial arm and wholly owned subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), today published its Annual Review for 2007/08.


Operating profits rose 17% to £117.7m (2006/07: £100.6m) in the 12 months to 31st March 2008, on sales up 13% to £916.3m (2006/07: £810.4m).


Announcing the results, John Smith, Chief Executive, BBC Worldwide, said that the proportion of sales from outside the UK had increased from 46% to 49% of the total.


Significant profit growth was delivered by BBC Worldwide's Sales & Distribution, Home Entertainment and Content & Production businesses, with Magazines putting on circulation in a challenging market.


Good progress was made in increasing BBC Worldwide's presence in Australia, India and the USA, which have been identified as top priority markets.


During the financial year, BBC Worldwide also made significant long-term investments in its digital and global brands strategies, launching – an advertising-funded internet platform for web-users outside the UK – building the Top Gear brand and acquiring a majority stake in Lonely Planet, the renowned travel information publisher.


John Smith, Chief Executive, said: "BBC Worldwide has achieved another year of double-digit profit growth*, while also making significant strategic investments in new businesses to prepare the company for the digital media world.


"The continued international appeal of our content and formats, coupled with high demand for home entertainment and the strengthening in key markets of our channels and production operations, has enabled the company to report very good results."


Etienne de Villiers, Non-executive Chairman, BBC Worldwide, said: "BBC Worldwide is on track to achieve its five-year growth plan and return a substantial stream of additional funding to its parent, the BBC, for the long term. The company is firing on all cylinders and well placed to deal with the challenges ahead."


Mark Thompson, Director-General of the BBC, commented: "Today's figures from BBC Worldwide once again demonstrate its importance to the Corporation. It generates profits and dividends that the BBC can reinvest in making outstanding programmes and developing online applications for the benefit of all licence fee payers.


"Increasingly I believe partnerships, like those we have with Virgin Media, or as in the proposed joint venture Kangaroo, will be critical in delivering future success for BBC Worldwide."


In terms of the trading outlook, John Smith indicated that profits for the current financial year could be affected by the changing global economic conditions and that the company plans further significant investments in new businesses, such as Kangaroo, the commercial media player currently being developed jointly with ITV and Channel 4, which is subject to approvals.


He also announced a strategic review to improve the performance of the Children's business and the closure of Audiocall, the telephone services business where payments to charities were wrongly withheld last year.


"These two issues aside, I remain confident that the company as a whole is in very good shape, and that the investments we have made across our key growth businesses will deliver new, sustainable, growing profits for the BBC," said Mr Smith.


* Excluding prior year exceptional items




Ali Jeremy / Jennie Allen



Annual Review 2007/08

This will be available online from 12.00 at

For hard copies or pictures please email:




Notes to editors

1.  BBC Worldwide is the main commercial arm and wholly owned subsidiary of the BBC
2. The Report and Financial Statements for the year ended 31 March 2008 may be obtained from Companies House from 31 July 2008
3. Information is also available in the BBC's Annual Report and Accounts published on 8 July 2008


Headline P&L and Divisional Breakdown




% Growth





Operating Profit








Operating Margin %




* Including share of joint ventures





Highlights by Operating Business:


BBC Worldwide Channels
Sales £183.8m (£169.0m); profit £12.6m (£20.9m)


  • Sales grew by 8.8% to £183.3m, with improvements evenly spread between UK and overseas markets.

  • Europe, Middle East and Africa sales and profit growth were driven by the UKTV portfolio of channels, while US sales, predominantly from BBC America, continued to grow in US dollar terms.

  • Audiences have responded favourably to the newly launched suite of international BBC-branded channels – BBC Entertainment, CBeebies, BBC Knowledge, BBC Lifestyle and BBC HD – showcasing the best UK content.

  • A new schedule and a raft of high-profile UK series such as Torchwood and Top Gear helped double BBC America's ratings in the key 25-54 age group and add 7m subscribers overall.

  • A new, US-facing BBC World News nightly bulletin, anchored by the BBC's former Senior North America TV Correspondent Matt Frei, was introduced on BBC America in October 2007.

  • Sales now include commission from BBC World News, the BBC's commercially funded, 24-hour, global news and information channel. BBC World News's advertising revenue grew by more than 20% year on year, and whose full-time distribution grew by 8% to 159m households.

  • UKTV, Britain's second-biggest digital broadcaster, a joint venture with Virgin Media, had a highly successful year. Its nine channels, which include UKTV Gold and UKTV History, offer a range of quality programming from across entertainment, drama, lifestyle and factual and reach 20m unique homes via pay-TV and free-to-air platforms.

  • The launch by UKTV of Dave, a new entertainment channel aimed mainly at men in the 16-44 age group, was a particular success. The channel rapidly tripled its audience share, to become the third most popular non-terrestrial entertainment channel for this viewer group.



BBC Worldwide Content & Production
Sales £68.5m (£50.4m); profit £14.2m (£7.1m)

Content & Production delivered strong sales of £68.5m, up 35.9% on 2006/07, and profits doubled to £14.2m.


  • Strong growth came from the US where BBC Worldwide's Los Angeles production office had a stand-out year, as the popularity of Dancing with the Stars (the international name for Strictly Come Dancing) continued.

  • Dancing with the Stars continues to delight audiences around the world. In 2007/08, the series has a re-commission rate of nearly 90% and was seen by audiences in 40 countries.

  • BBC Worldwide's new office in Mumbai secured the commission to make the next Dancing with the Stars season for Sony Entertainment Television.

  • Real progress was made in developing Top Gear as an international TV format. The commission to make a pilot of this long-running UK motoring show for NBC in the US was secured, and SBS in Australia commissioned the Freehand Group to make a full series of Top Gear Australia for autumn 2008.

  • In addition to these entertainment formats, progress was made in licensing scripted formats: The Office format was sold to UCTV in Chile and Life on Mars format was sold to Antena 3 in Spain.

  • The newly created in-house format development team, responsible for devising new formats to appeal to particular markets, developed and sold a new game show, How Much Is Enough?, to the Game Show Network in the US.

  • The well established Indie Unit continued to build relationships with the UK independent sector. It signed new distribution and development deals with Red, Tern TV and Oxford Film and TV. The latter will deliver Simon Schama's latest project on America.

  • BBC Worldwide also secured stakes in UK independent production start-ups Left Bank Pictures Ltd and Cliffhanger Productions Ltd.

  • The stake BBC Worldwide took in Australian indie The Freehand Group in 2006/07 is starting to reap rewards: as well as the commission to produce Top Gear for SBS in Australia, the new property, Outback Wildlife Rescue, was commissioned and is now selling internationally.

  • Content & Production now has a production office in New York. It has plans to establish further production capability in Europe and Latin America in 2008/09.

  • The feature film Earth, based on the widely acclaimed natural history series Planet Earth, went on theatrical release in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Even before the film reaches US audiences next spring, it has outperformed BBC Worldwide's previous theatrical natural history release, Deep Blue.



BBC Worldwide Digital Media
Sales £21.9m (£13.9m); loss £10.9m (loss: £3.9m)


  • Digital Media delivered sales of £21.9m, up 57.6% on the previous year, driven by revenue from syndication of content to partners such as YouTube and Apple iTunes and by the launch of

  • Overall, BBC Worldwide saw an increase in online revenues from 1.1% to 2.7% of total sales year on year. This reflected growth from Digital Media businesses as well as magazine websites and video on demand sales, whose profits are reported elsewhere.

  • In October 2007 BBC Worldwide gained BBC Trust approval to introduce advertising to the international traffic to The service, known as, was launched in November 2007 and is visible only from outside the UK. The revenues will allow BBC Worldwide to invest to make the international showcase for the BBC's key brands.

  • A landmark alliance between BBC Worldwide, Channel 4 and ITV was formed – with the working title, 'Kangaroo' – to develop a new UK on-demand service that will offer over 10,000 hours of TV content on the web. The proposal has been referred to the Competition Commission and is subject to various approvals, including that of the BBC Trust and each broadcaster's board.

  • BBC Worldwide was the first broadcaster in the UK to sell BBC programmes on a download-to-own basis via iTunes, a deal it then repeated in the US. Another deal was struck with Sony Playstation for Top Gear to be downloaded through Gran Turismo TV.



BBC Worldwide Global Brands
Sales £23.1m (n/a); loss £2.1m (n/a)


  • A new business, Global Brands, was established at year end, with Marcus Arthur, who had been MD of BBC Magazines' London-based publishing business, appointed MD.

  • Going forward, Lonely Planet, the leading travel information group in which BBC acquired a 75% stake in October 2007, and Top Gear, the world's biggest media motoring brand, will be managed from within this new business area.

  • In a year in which the market for travel guides was up only 1.3% in volume terms, Lonely Planet grew volume by 6.4%, outperforming its competitors in the main publishing and licensing business.

  • 2008/09 will be a landmark year for Lonely Planet – with the website re-launch, a magazine and a range of new book products in the pipeline.

  • In March 2008, a joint-venture deal was announced that will launch a live version of the

  • Top Gear programme at major UK motor shows.

  • BBC Worldwide also set up a joint venture in Australia with ACP to publish a local version of the Top Gear magazine – local versions are already available in a number of countries, including Russia, India and China.



BBC Worldwide Sales & Distribution
Sales £212.9m (£216.4m); profit £46.7m (£40.2m)


  • Sales dipped slightly to £212.9m from £216.4m in 2006/07, mainly reflecting the change in mix in the US from low-margin co-production deals to more profitable licensing deals.

  • 2007/08 was another year of excellent growth and continued innovation for Global TV Sales, building on and underlining its position as Europe's biggest exporter of television programmes.

  • Sales to Europe were up 3.4% to £116.1m and profits grew from £28.8m to £30.8m, up 6.9%.

  • Sales to the Americas of £69.1m were down from £78.2m, but profits rose to £6.9m from £2.9m in 2006/07.

  • In the Rest of the World, sales grew 6.9% year on year, with profit up 5.9% to £9.0m, helped by the explosion of new video-on-demand customers.

  • The year's five highest grossing titles were:

    1. Doctor Who

    2. Planet Earth

    3. Top Gear

    4. Spooks

    5. Robin Hood

  • Modern drama, including Jekyll, Mistresses, Primeval and Torchwood, sold well to complement period productions such as Cranford, Sense and Sensibility, and Oliver Twist. All these found strong markets and further confirmed the UK's reputation as a leading producer of bold, high-quality drama.

  • As a distributor of programming for the world-renowned BBC Natural History Unit, Sales & Distribution had continued success with Planet Earth, rolled out Ganges and Life in Cold Blood, and unveiled the landmark Wild China, its first-ever Chinese co-production.

  • BBC Showcase, held in Brighton, England, in February welcomed more than 540 buyers from around the world. It is the world's largest trade event hosted by a single distributor. With over 1000 hours of new content in the front catalogue, there was more on offer than ever before for traditional television buyers as well as mobile and digital media buyers.


BBC Magazines
Sales £177.9m (£171.3m); profit £16.7m (£20.0m)


  • Sales were £177.9m, up 3.9% year on year, and a very strong performance when set in the context of the industry climate.

  • BBC Magazines remains the UK's third biggest consumer magazines publisher. Circulation grew overall with year-on-year Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) figures up 6.7%.

  • The weekly upmarket listings magazine Radio Times continues to be BBC Magazines' flagship title, reaching over 2.7m readers a week (National Readership Survey, Jul-Dec 2007).

  • Top Gear and Olive were particularly successful with year-on-year circulations up 5.4% and 25.3% respectively.

  • The children's titles were up 5.8% year on year with Top of the Pops Magazine and Doctor Who Adventures recording particularly healthy average copy sales of 125,000 and 155,000 respectively (ABC Jul-Dec 2007).

  • Five new print titles were launched in 2007/08. For younger children there were Charlie & Lola and In the Night Garden, the latter achieving an excellent debut circulation of 110,000 (ABC Jul–Dec 2007). Near to year-end a football title for 8-14 year-olds was launched, linked to the BBC's Match of the Day brand. Countryfile and Who Do You Think You Are? were launched for the adult market.

  • Subscriptions to BBC titles rose by 12.9% to 739,000, of which 39.6% are by direct debit.
    Advertising sales were held level with 2006/07 in spite of very testing market conditions - a 2.7% decline across all consumer magazines (Advertising Association Forecast; NMR). BBC Magazines' advertising sales team maintained share in their core market (14.7% in 2007 against 14.9% in 2008).

  • The overseas licensing team increased sales by 14.7% and there were 39 licensed editions of BBC titles published in 57 territories by the end of the year.

  • Working with Digital Media, Magazines developed into a full consumer site and additional functionality was incorporated into and was launched for people seeking to pursue an environmentally friendly lifestyle.

  • BBC Haymarket Exhibitions, a joint venture with Haymarket Exhibitions, mounted four consumer events in 2007/08, one of which was a new show, The BBC Summer Festival that attracted over 120,000 visitors.



BBC Home Entertainment
Sales £228.2m (£189.4m); profit £40.5m (£26.8m)

  • Home Entertainment achieved profits of £40.5m on sales of £228.2m.

  • The 51.1% increase in profits year on year was largely due to excellent DVD sales for 2 entertain, a 60:40 joint venture with Woolworths plc, driven by the HD release of Planet Earth in the US. Sales of the title across all configurations topped 3m units by year-end – it was the highest-grossing American HD title of the year and one of the top-10 US DVD titles of 2007.

  • BBC Worldwide's DVD revenues – including its share of sales from 2 entertain, which also has a production business, Banana Split, and a music label, Demon Music – were up 29.0% to £164.6m and its share of profits up 91.2% to £41.3m. Other notable hits were the Doctor Who Complete Series 3, Clarkson – Supercar Showdown and Richard Hammond's Top Gear Interactive.

  • Sales across the newly merged audiobook and music businesses rose by 14.6% to £26.7m.
    The music businesses had a strong year, with the licensing team celebrating a number of hit CDs, including Live Lounge 1 and 2.

  • BBC Worldwide remains the UK's leading audiobook publisher and delivered profits of £1.9m through tight cost control, including the renegotiation of a major distribution contract. Digital sales of spoken word content are now climbing steadily, with 312,000 downloads purchased in the year (up 47.5% year on year) via a range of online outlets including Audible, iTunes and

  • Just after year-end a major agreement was reached with EMI to unlock the BBC archive of TV and radio material relating to the EMI stable of artists.

  • The Children's business had continuing success with Doctor Who in many territories and also saw the very successful launch at retail of In the Night Garden in the UK. Other core properties continue to perform well – for example, Teletubbies celebrated its 10th anniversary with a world tour of the characters for the first time.

  • However, alongside the hits there have been some children's properties that have failed to break in to the retail market. Though sales in 2007/08 were £30.9m, up 25.1% on the previous year, write-downs of investments contributed to a loss of £7.2m against a loss of £1.6m in 2006/07 and the business is now the subject of a fundamental strategic review.

  • 2007/08 was a good year for the Live Entertainment team which develops theatre shows from media brands and properties. The arena shows Walking with Dinosaurs in the US and Australia and CBeebies Live! in the UK were highly popular. The success of the live arena version of Dancing with the Stars in the US in 2007 was replicated in the UK with a 22-date tour. (The team transferred to the Content & Production business in April 2008.)

  • Premium rate telephone services in the UK were heavily affected by the BBC's decision in July 2007 to suspend all competitions linked to BBC programmes following various breaches of editorial standards across the industry. The company's Audiocall business reported sales down 23.8% year on year to £3.2m and profits down to £0.5m. Given the consolidation within this sector and increased regulation, BBC Worldwide believes Audiocall will struggle to achieve scale and therefore proposes to close the business.



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Date : 08.07.2008
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