'Dancing with the Stars' drives U.S. growth

LONDON — BBC Worldwide, the pubcaster’s commercial arm, has reported a 17% rise in profit to a record £117.7 million ($232 million), but warned that deteriorating market conditions could affect future prospects.

The best performing division was content and production, which delivered sales up 35.9% to $135 million. It doubled profits to $27.9 million thanks to strong growth in the U.S., where BBC Worldwide’s Los Angeles office had “a standout year” due to the continued popularity of “Dancing With the Stars.” The skein is seen by auds in 40 countries and has a re-commission rate of nearly 90%, said the pubcaster.

Auto show “Top Gear” was another strong performer. A pilot of the long-running U.K. show is being made by NBC in the U.S., while a full series is being produced for SBS in Oz.

But BBC Worldwide’s tyke division again failed to come up to scratch, losing $14.2 million compared with a loss of $3.2 million in 2006-07. Worldwide will carry out a “fundamental strategic review” of its children’s and merchandising activities.

Kid fare includes heavy international hitters like “Teletubbies,” but despite a 25% increase in sales, worth $60.1 million, some children’s properties, which the BBC declined to name, failed to work in the retail market.

CEO John Smith and other BBC toppers warned that the challenging global economy could affect Worldwide’s profits this year. He added that Worldwide would continue to invest in new businesses.

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