O’seas gains pump BBC Worldwide profits

Int'l rev up at pubcaster's commercial arm

LONDON — BBC Worldwide, the pubcaster’s commercial arm, has announced record profits of £89.4 million ($152 million), up 62% year on year.

For the first time, more than half of sales came from overseas.

The BBC hopes these results, which saw sales increase by 11% to $1.4 billion, will help convince critics that it is committed to delivering real value to license fee payers.

Profits from the pubcaster’s global channels business, which includes BBC America, surged 73% to $12.4 million while TV sales showed a profit of $55.6 million, up 3%.

BBC America, which has seen primetime ratings increase 20%, reached its target of 45 million U.S. homes.

Mark Young, managing director of global TV sales, said his division was responsible for a “number of great success stories” and predicted an even stronger perf next year.

There had been significant growth in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India, he said, but Asia had flatlined. “This part of the world is characterized by a large number of relatively small markets, and gaining a critical mass is difficult,” he said.

But Young’s optimistic about growth in China, where “children’s and natural history represent great opportunities.”

Worldwide’s new content and production division, which made “Dancing With the Stars” in Los Angeles for ABC, saw profits increase 220% to $5.8 million on sales of $65 million. Format has sold to 27 countries.

Children’s division saw its loss decrease to $1.6 million due to the success of properties like “Doctor Who.” Young predicted children’s would be back in profit next year.

Home entertainment saw profits grow 197% to $46.4 million thanks to the success of DVDs of hits shows including “Little Britain” and “Wallace & Gromit.”

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