Hit shows drive BBC to record profits

By Nick Clark

Programmes such as Doctor Who, featuring Karen Gillan, have boosted BBC Worldwide. Photo / Supplied
Programmes such as Doctor Who, featuring Karen Gillan, have boosted BBC Worldwide. Photo / Supplied

The international success of hit shows including Doctor Who and Sherlock saw the BBC's commercial arm post record profits last year.

The strong performance also meant that the head of the division's total pay packet overtook that of the director-general.

BBC Worldwide yesterday published its annual review for the year to the end of March, which revealed headline profits rose 10.2 per cent to£160.2 million ($310 million).

Other successful shows last year included Top Gear and Waking the Dead as well as Dancing with the Stars.

Yesterday, BBC Worldwide also announced that Facebook users would be able to rent episodes of Doctor Who from the site directly.

John Smith, its chief executive, said: "This was BBC Worldwide's most successful year ever in championing great UK content around the globe.

"By offering world-class British programming and brands that resonate with global audiences, we were able to lift revenues beyond £1 billion for a third year in succession."

He added that Worldwide's role in driving growth for British creative industries and reinvesting money back into the BBC was "more important than ever in a tough financial climate".

Worldwide's performance saw Smith secure a £138,000 bonus, lifting his pay packet to £898,000 - 9.6 per cent higher than the previous year.

Mark Thompson, the BBC director-general, received £779,000.

Sales rose almost 8 per cent to £1.1 billion in the year to the end of March, up from £1 billion a year earlier.

Smith said the investment drive in the division from a few years ago "was paying off".

United States operations grew after the appointment of Herb Scannell in June last year to head the region, while the group is also looking for executives in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America to help expansion.

Digital sales rose to 8.1 per cent of total sales with revenues from the website more than doubling in the US. The business aims to make it a tenth of sales by the end of next year.

This year will also see the international rollout of the BBC iPlayer.

- Independent

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