BBC Worldwide Profit Up 1 Percent in Latest Year

Ripper Street

The U.K. public broadcaster's commercial arm also boosted revenue by 3 percent and says it invested $266 million in content.

LONDON -- On Wednesday, BBC Worldwide, the British public broadcaster's commercial arm, reported higher financials for its latest fiscal year.

The company also said it invested more in distribution rights for the 2012-2013 year and returned $22 million more to independent rights holders compared to the previous year.

BBC Worldwide invested $266 million overall (£176 million) in content last year. Because it is the first year that the commercial arm has published the total investment tally, there is no comparable figure from last year, a spokesperson said.

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The company posted a 1 percent increase in its annual profit to $235.4 million (£156 million) for the 12 months ending March 31, up from 2011-2012's figure of $234 million.

BBC Worldwide's profit before tax, excluding gains and losses on disposals, hit $188.8 milllion (£125 million) in the year, a 21 percent gain from the prior year's $157 million.

The company also grew revenue by 3 percent to $1.7 billion (£1.1 billion) in 12-13, slightly higher than the $1.5 billion in 2011-2012. BBC Worldwide exists "to support the BBC public service mission and to maximize profits on its behalf."

The money-making arm of the BBC said it had pumped $157 million (£104 million) into distribution deals in the latest financial year, compared to the previous year's tally of $149 million (£98.6 million).

BBC Worldwide, in publishing its annual report on Tuesday, noted that of the $157 million invested in distribution rights deals, $112 million (£74 million) went into BBC commissions, a fall from the previous year's $118 million (£78.1 million). That was in line with the commercial arm's stated business goal of strengthening ties with the independent production community.

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BBC Worldwide pointed to Matthew Macfadyen starrer Ripper Street, produced for BBC One by Tiger Aspect Productions, Lookout Point and BBC America, and Benedict Cumberbatch and Rebecca Hall costume drama Parade's End, a Mammoth Screen production for BBC Two in association with HBO Miniseries, Trademark Films, BBC Worldwide and Lookout Point, as well as co-production partners, as examples of the different ways it works to create content.

It is also investing in BBC in-house dramas such as Father Brown and indie productions such as Call the Midwife (Neal Street) while developing longer-running shows "to meet client demands," such as Da Vinci's Demons with Starz, which was filmed in Wales. The show is produced by BBC Worldwide Productions in L.A. and was the first series made under the Adjacent Productions label, which differentiates between new programming and BBC reformats produced for the U.S. market.

But BBC Worldwide said $137 million (£91 million) was returned to independent rights holders through upfront rights investment, profit share and royalties. That compares to $115 million (£76.2 million) in 2011-2012.

Program sales and distribution created revenue of $471 million (£312 million), with particular growth in Europe and the first full-year impact of video on demand (VOD) sales.

Partnerships with Netflix, Hulu and Tesco's Clubcard T, alongside eight YouTube channels with 3.4 million subscribers, helped drive digital growth, BBC Worldwide said.

BBC Worldwide returned $235 million (£156 million) to the BBC this fiscal year, a 28 percent fall from $326 million the previous year.

BBC Worldwide said 2011-2012's returns included a $110 million (£73 million) one-off dividend relating to the sale of BBC Magazines.