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BBC Worldwide delivers ‘steady’ performance as programme sales top £300m

RIPPER STREETBBC Worldwide’s programme sales revenues topped £300 million (US$453 million) for the first time in its latest financial year with distribution a key profit and revenue driver for the commercial arm of the UK public broadcaster.

Worldwide’s Sales and Distribution unit recorded revenues of £312.3 million in the 2012/2013 period compared with £292.7 million a year earlier. The organisation’s annual review, released this morning, also shows an uptick in profits, which came in at £79.3 million against £72.3 million in the same period a year earlier.

Touting its success, Worldwide said it is the largest distributor outside of the Hollywood studios.

By region, the majority of distribution revenues continue to come from the EMEA region, which pulled in £175.5 million of the total in 2012/13 compared with £164.6 million in 2011/12. The Americas generated sales of £78.8 million compared with £73.3 million across the same period with the rest of the world accounting for £58 million against £54.4 million a year earlier.

Within the EMEA region, Worldwide said that Germany was a hot spot as was France, where a raft of new DTT channels rolled out, helping territory specific revenues to rise by 50%. That growth was partially offset by the weakness of the Spanish and northern Mediterranean markets, which were buffeted by harsh economic conditions.

Doctor Who, Parade’s End, The Paradise and Ripper Street (pictured) were they key drama titles in the year with Bake Off among the top performing formats.

Worldwide said its sales to digital platforms increased 23%, without giving the actual revenue figures. It inked deals with LoveFilm, Netflix and Hulu in the period.

“The story of our Annual Review this year is one of good performance in the face of tough market and macroeconomic conditions,” said Tim Davie, who replaced John Smith as BBC Worldwide chief executive this year. “Sales and 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 sales.”

In a year in which Worldwide reorganised to better focus on international regions, Davie added that 64% of revenues came from outside of the UK. The US and Australia were Worldwide’s biggest markets, generating US$550m and AU$120m respectively.

The company’s channels business notched 15 launches in the year and generated revenues of £369.1 million and profit of £47.8 million in the year, compared with £344 million and £42.3 million respectively a year earlier.

Overall revenues for the year, which runs to end-March, increased 3% year-on-year, taking the total to £1.1 billion. Pre-tax profit, excluding one-off items, increased 21% to £125 million although headline profit of £156 million was only up 1%.