The BBC has had a year of positive change and creative achievement. We are holding our own against the big streaming giants, we have had a prolific year for awards, record levels of efficiency, and new levels of commercial success.Tony Hall, Director-General, BBC
Date: 02.07.2019 Last updated: 02.07.2019 at 13.53
A strong year for the BBC is today set out in the corporation’s Annual Report. A string of hit programmes saw the BBC pick up more than 180 awards, and in a prolific year there was significant progress on gender pay, record levels of efficiency, and a jump in commercial profits to help fund quality programmes for licence fee payers.
All this comes at a time when the BBC is rapidly transforming its services to deliver what audiences want at a time of fierce global competition and tough financial pressures.
Despite these challenges, 91% of the UK adult population use BBC services at least once a week, and programmes such as Bodyguard and Killing Eve have won significant audience and critical acclaim, including from younger viewers.
Sir David Clementi, BBC chairman, says: "The BBC is paid for by the public and our job is to provide great services for everyone. We’re working in an ever more competitive environment and audiences increasingly expect to receive value for their licence fee through our online services.
"The fact that we have had 3.6 billion programme requests - up 10% on last year - on BBC iPlayer, significant increases in reach for BBC News online - domestically and globally - and 17 million people now sign in to their BBC account monthly attest to this. The provisional decision from Ofcom that the BBC iPlayer catch-up window will be extended to 12 months is great news for audiences in a world where global streaming services can offer unlimited boxsets for as long as they want.
"Of course, the biggest issue the Board has had to consider over the past year was on the future of free TV licences for the over-75s. I truly believe the decision we have made to fund free licences for the over 75s in receipt of Pension Credit is the fairest one possible, fairest to the poorest pensioners and fairest to all licence fee payers."
Tony Hall, Director-General, says: "The BBC has had a year of positive change and creative achievement. We are holding our own against the big streaming giants, we have had a prolific year for awards, record levels of efficiency, and new levels of commercial success. 91% of UK adults use our services each week. That is a sign of success in a world where there is more competition for people’s time.
"Ultimately, the public will judge the BBC on the quality of our programmes, but that quality is underpinned by our finances. The decision to continue funding free TV licences for over 75s on Pension Credit makes it all the more important that the BBC does everything possible to help itself financially - that’s why the record levels of efficiency and higher commercial returns are so important in ensuring we have a strong BBC for the future.
"The BBC has also turned the corner on gender pay. When we first published the figures for top talent, there was a 75:25 split between men and women. The projection for 2019/20 is now 55:45. This is significant change. The task is not complete, we are not complacent, but we are well on our way."
Today’s report demonstrates a successful year, including acclaimed programmes and significant progress in transforming the BBC to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.
World-class programmes with huge reach
It was a year of awards. The BBC won 184 major awards in total, including five Golden Globes and 16 Baftas for shows like Bodyguard and Killing Eve.
The finale of Bodyguard was watched by 17.1 million people, making it the most watched episode of any drama series since current records began in 2002. The first series of Killing Eve was a hit with younger audiences and was requested 42.5 million times on BBC iPlayer. The landmark series Dynasties was watched by 7.5 million viewers each episode on average.
And 44.5 million watched the FIFA World Cup Coverage across BBC Television.
Expanding Britain’s reach around the globe
The BBC’s weekly global reach has increased to 426 million adults – a 13% increase. Blue Planet 2 has reached three quarters of a billion people.
Reinventing the BBC for tomorrow
We launched BBC Sounds, had 3.6 billion programme requests on BBC iPlayer - an increase of 10% - and announced our intention to launch BritBox with ITV.
Over 17 million people now sign into their BBC account every month, allowing us to deliver a more personalised experience.
The monthly reach of BBC Online is 77% of adults compared to 75% last year. Monthly BBC Online reach for 18-34s is 89%.
We continue to reach nine out of ten adults every week.
Delivering for children
CBeebies was named Channel of the Year at the RTS Awards, and we announced plans to launch our new ‘Own It’ app for children to stay safe online, supporting young people in today’s challenging media environment.
We reach eight out of ten children each week.
Doing more than ever in the Nations and Regions
In Scotland we have launched a new digital channel, attracting record digital audiences for its opening night. Each week BBC Scotland reaches around a fifth of audiences in Scotland. During its core hours of broadcast - from 7pm until midnight - it is the most watched digital channel in Scotland.
We are forging new dynamic partnerships across the country, such as Local News Partnerships, which have resulted in more than 78,000 public service stories. This is vitally important when many important local stories were going untold.
Transforming gender pay
When we first published figures for talent paid over £150,000 in 2016/17, there was a 75:25 split between men and women on the list(excluding BBC Studios). The projection for 2019/20 is now 55:45. Last year there were no women in the top ten, this year there are three. This is rapid change.
Our gender pay gap is also down from 7.6% to 6.7%. Across the BBC, pay differences between women and men are 3% or less at every single band.
This isn’t the end of the journey - there is clearly more to do, but we have made significant progress.
More of our income spent on programmes than ever
Efficiency is a priority for the BBC. 95% of the BBC’s controllable spend this year was focused on content and delivery - just 5% was spent on running the organisation. This is at a record level.
Radical efficiencies at a time of high industry inflation
£153m worth of savings were delivered in 2018/19. This has been vital to help offset the £187m drop income from the DWP, as their funding for over 75s reduces to zero in 2020. This takes our cumulative savings since the beginning of the Charter to £397m.
In a world of global media giants with deep pockets, which is driving super inflation in the market, we have bucked the inflation trend, by keeping spend on top talent and the highest-paid senior managers to 0.5 per cent each out of our total spend. But the programmes our top talent present or appear on make up around 40% of all viewing and listening with the BBC.
Doubled commercial profits in a highly competitive environment
BBC Studios generated record returns of £243m to the public service. This shows that the decision to put BBC Studios onto a commercial footing is working. Our overall commercial group dividend was a record £73m - money which can be spent on programmes and services for the public.
The BBC has been clear about the importance of maximising commercial income given the financial pressures we face.
Creating a BBC that better reflects the public we serve
We have hit our workforce targets for BAME, LGBTQ+ and disability representation. We have more women in leadership roles than ever before at 43.8%.
But we still have more to do at senior leadership level, both for BAME and female representation, and we will work hard to do so.
The BBC now leads the way on transparency on pay in the media.
Notes to editors
The Annual Report and Accounts 2018/19 can be found here
Details of expenses for Q2 (July-September) and Q3 (October-December) 2018/19 for senior managers who earn over £150k are also published today
On BBC Online reach: Comscore MMX Multi-Platform, UK, Total Unique Visitors per month, [P] BBC Sites, October 2017-March 2018, April 2018-March 2019; percentages based on overall UK populations using ONS population estimates