The BBC faces significant challenges from competitors and ongoing financial pressures, the pubcaster said in its 2017-18 annual report, while also touting the performance of BBC Studios, which delivered a profit in its first year as a commercial subsidiary.
BBC Studios reported headline sales of £432 million ($571 million) and EBITDA of £7.2 million ($9.5 million) in its first year of trading. BBC Worldwide—which merged with BBC Studios in April of this year—delivered an EBITDA of £118.3 million ($156.4 million) on sales that were down 2 percent to £1 billion ($1.3 billion), and returned to the BBC £209.9 million ($277.5 million).
Tim Davie, CEO for BBC Studios, and formerly CEO of BBC Worldwide, noted, “BBC Worldwide delivered a solid performance for 2017/2018 against a rapidly changing and an ever more competitive landscape. The results reflect strong delivery against our strategy; investing in premium British IP and an increased focus on customer management have led to another record year for content sales, while our productions, formats and branded services continue to extend their global footprint and find wider audiences. BBC Worldwide entered the merger with BBC Studios from a strong position. Joining our world-class distribution capability with the U.K.’s most awarded production company was the most natural step to keep us both fit for the future. I am confident about the prospects of the new BBC Studios and what we can achieve together.”
Mark Linsey, chief creative officer for BBC Studios, and formerly director of BBC Studios, added, “It’s a testament to the hard work and dedication of our hugely talented program-makers and business teams that we have turned a profit in our first year of operating as a commercial entity. This year we received 200 nominations and over 80 awards for our content. Three of the top five British shows of 2017 were ours, proving that our programs have made a huge impact on audiences. Not only that, we won new business from third-party broadcasters both here in the U.K. and around the world. We now look forward to consolidating and growing our success within the newly merged BBC Studios.”
Announcing the annual report, the director-general of the BBC, Tony Hall, noted, “I hope this report shows just how powerful a creative force the BBC continues to be for Britain. We’re here to provide great services for everyone. And what this report has proved once again is that, while we can’t always compete on budgets, we can still win the awards, and we still bring the country together and represent its voices like no one else. I’m proud of the BBC. I’m confident for the future. Above all, I believe that we have never been more needed in a fast-changing world. And that a strong BBC can be a powerful champion for Britain.”
Sir David Clementi, chairman of the BBC, commented, “In my first full year as chairman it is clear to me that the BBC’s public service mission is growing in importance in a fast-changing world. In an era of false information, fake news, and social media echo chambers which reinforce our own view of the world, it is now more needed than ever. However I also believe that the environment around the BBC—competitive, financial, and technological—has never been tougher. In particular the financial challenge is getting ever greater. And the market around us is increasingly dominated by a very small number of very large, global players, with extraordinary creative and financial firepower. As the BBC, we need to think very carefully about how we respond to all these pressures.”