BBC Touts “Resilient” Commercial Arm


BBC Studios is on track to meet its five-year target of £1.2 billion in returns to the BBC by 2021-22, despite the challenges of the last year amid the pandemic.

Overall revenues at BBC Studios slipped by 10 percent to £1.25 billion for 2020-21, largely due to production pauses causes by Covid-19. Profit was down to £151 million, a year-on-year reduction of 17 percent, as reduced costs partially offset lower revenues. Returns to the BBC, primarily investment in programming, were £137 million.

Tom Fussell, interim CEO of BBC Studios, noted, “2020-21 was an extremely challenging year, and I want to pay tribute to teams across the business who worked so hard to deliver this set of results. Behind the numbers, we are releasing today is a superhuman, collective effort to support our customers around the world, with most of us working in difficult and dynamic circumstances to deliver the very best British content. We’ve kept programs on-air, set standards for Covid-safe productions, scooped commissions, won awards, launched new services, strengthened our production pipeline and grown our brands. Thanks to a quicker than expected recovery in the global media industry, particularly advertising, along with some careful cost controls, we are in a very strong position to deliver on significant commercial ambition and meet the new target of £1.5 billion set by the BBC over the five years from 21-22.”

In its annual report, the BBC hailed the strong success of its content in the last year, all while making the organization leaner, with a 6 percent reduction in its total workforce.

Viewers across the U.K. spent an average of 18 hours and 2 minutes with the BBC every week, up from 17 hours and 45 minutes. BBC iPlayer saw record audiences, with 6.1 billion streams, up 28 percent on last year.

BBC Chairman Richard Sharp said, “I’m proud of what the BBC has done to rally around the needs of the country throughout the Covid crisis. It has demonstrated very clearly the enduring importance of its public service mission. And against a landscape of unprecedented market pressures, it has kept delivering world-class programming across all genres. I believe the strategy the BBC has in place is the right one. While there is more work to do—particularly around impartiality, which the BBC has to get right—the BBC is on the right path.”

Director General Tim Davie added, “The BBC has delivered outstanding content and value to audiences in extraordinary circumstances this year. I am proud of all we have achieved to inform, educate and entertain the Nation in record numbers during the pandemic.

“The BBC is responding to global competition and pressure on our finances. But, we know we must do much more to ensure license fee payers across the U.K. get best value from the BBC, to maintain their trust and provide a service they cannot do without. I am absolutely focused on making the reforms we need to ensure the BBC is positioned to offer all audiences the best possible service well into the future.”

Addressing the competitive environment, Davie noted in the Annual Report: “I have been clear that the goal of a successful BBC is not to see off the big global players. Too often in the past, we have tried to cope with increasing competition by making more and spreading ourselves too thinly. Instead, our role is to offer exceptional value to all audiences by producing more differentiated, ‘must have’ content they feel is for them.”