Content & Production generates a growing pipeline of content by investing in BBC and indie-produced programming, developing funding solutions to help greenlight new shows and building relationships with talent. It licenses and produces TV formats for other broadcasters and creates new programming via its production network.
Overall sales were up 10.7% year on year to £97.6m helped by growth in the format business in the US, India and EMEA. Profits increased to £17.6m, a result of strong growth in the Live Entertainment business and the ongoing success of Dancing with the Stars (Strictly Come Dancing in the UK) in the US.
We now have wholly owned production bases, BBC Worldwide Productions, in the US (New York and LA), India and France; joint ventures and associates in Canada (Temple Street), Australia (Freehand), Argentina (GP Media) and Germany (Tower Productions); and production/distribution arrangements in Russia (with MIR Reality) and Brazil (Mixer). This strategy adds production fees and ancillary revenue to licensing income while providing greater influence and control over the quality of finished programmes.
International success continues with proven formats such as Dancing with the Stars and Top Gear. In the US, the LA office produced its tenth season of Dancing with the Stars for ABC, premiering with the largest audience in the show's history. In New York, cable commissions included an eighth season of What Not to Wear (for TLC). India had a good year producing a new season of Dancing with the Stars (for Sony) and Baby Borrowers (NDTV), as well as winning a commission for Celebrity Sleepover (NDTV). France developed a local version of People's Quiz and a Louis Theroux adaptation, both for TF1. In Australia, season nine of Dancing with the Stars was produced for The Seven Network and a third series of Top Gear Australia was commissioned gaining a higher commercial profile as a result of its move from SBS to Nine Network.
Despite American networks' preference for established formats, our US production offices also succeeded in getting a number of scripted developments underway with ABC and HBO.
In 2009/10, Content Acquisition costs increased by 17.2%; these costs support investment in BBC and non-BBC rights across the whole company, as well as the management of our equity stakes in several UK indies. This year, BBC investments included Doctor Who and Top Gear in addition to new titles such as crime drama series Luther. Science, Natural History and History titles remain strong sellers internationally and programmes such as Universal, Planet Dinosaur, Egypt and Atlantis are expected to perform well.
The business continues to work closely with independent production houses to find funding solutions for format and content acquisition. Development deals were agreed with Nutopia, Neal Street and Ten Alps in addition to investment in titles such as Primeval 4 and 5 (Impossible), Outcasts (Kudos), Earthflight (John Downer) and Mo (ITV Studios) about the late Mo Mowlam, for which Julie Walters won a BAFTA.
In recent years, acquisition activity has included taking minority equity stakes in a small number of production companies. In 2009/10, these companies provided over 100 hours of programming, delivering £17.0m of distribution revenue from titles such as Wallander, Gavin & Stacey and Being Erica.
Profits from Live Entertainment doubled as a result of strong margins from this year's main show, Walking with Dinosaurs. As our live shows are built around our major brands and children's properties, the business moved into Global Brands just after year end.
The format business will focus on growing output from its production bases and partnerships around the world. In the US there will be a concerted drive to greenlight scripted formats and, in the UK, we will continue to identify strong investment opportunities, and help the BBC and the independent sector supplement production budgets. The business has also introduced a Talent and Brand Ventures operation with the aim of creating deeper relationships with on-screen talent and ensuring the potential of their intellectual property is fully maximised.
Content & Production is taking the lead in sourcing funding for British television. In partnership with Impossible Pictures, it developed a rescue package for ITV series Primeval through a deficit-funding deal and window-sharing strategy involving BBC America, UKTV (UK) and ITV. The deal secured two more seasons of this hit sci-fi show, with BBC Worldwide as the biggest investor in the series.
|Content & Production||97.6||88.2|
|Content & Production||17.6||16.8|