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BBC Worldwide Channels
Darren Childs, Managing Director
Channels manages a portfolio of 29 channels that showcase the best of BBC and other high-quality programming.
It is the UK’s largest distributor of international channels which are available in 285m homes.
|Rest of World||9.9
|Rest of World||(7.1)
Channels’ aim is to continue expanding internationally to offer a window for UK content in key TV markets and to ensure the
BBC brand becomes universally known for the breadth and quality of its output. As well as its international channels,
this business manages BBC Worldwide’s 50% share of UKTV, Britain’s second biggest digital broadcaster, with partner
In 2007/08 sales grew by 8.8% to £183.8m, with improvements evenly spread between UK and overseas markets. Europe, Middle East and Africa
(EMEA) sales and profit growth were driven by the success of the UKTV portfolio of channels. US sales, predominantly from
BBC America, continued to grow in US dollar terms although there was a decrease in the sterling value because of exchange-rate
fluctuations. Although core performance in the US remained strong, further investment in programming depressed profits in the short term while
positioning the channels for future growth. Sales in the rest of the world now include commission from BBC World News. BBC World News
advertising revenue grew by more than 20% year on year, while full-time distribution grew by 8% to 159m households. The
profit decrease in the rest of the world reflects the investment in the new portfolio of BBC-branded channels.
In 2006/07 the Channels team reviewed its entire portfolio and re-focused the business on developing BBC-branded channels
for international rollout: BBC Entertainment, CBeebies, BBC Knowledge, BBC Lifestyle and BBC HD. These channels use clear
genre sign posting in their branding and marketing, and are fully adaptable to fit individual market preferences through
strategically scheduled programming and the use of local languages. In addition, since April 2007 the team has managed
the advertising and distribution sales for BBC World News, the BBC’s commercially funded, 24-hour, global news and
information channel, so presenting a single face to the market.
In Asia, BBC Entertainment launched throughout the region in October 2006, replacing BBC Prime. In 2007 CBeebies, BBC
Knowledge and BBC Lifestyle were launched in Singapore in July and in Hong Kong in October. CBeebies and BBC Knowledge
began airing in Indonesia in April 2008. In India, BBC Entertainment and CBeebies launched in May 2007 and the Channels
team is looking to further the distribution of the two channels there.
In Europe, BBC Entertainment, BBC Lifestyle, BBC Knowledge and CBeebies were launched in Poland in December 2007. Audiences have
responded well, with excellent ratings. This success is expected to continue as the channels are rolled out on cable.
Channels has also reached a new carriage agreement with Multichoice in Africa, where four of the new channels will launch
later in 2008. These will replace BBC Worldwide’s existing channels there, BBC Prime and BBC Food.
BBC HD, a brand new channel showcasing BBC Worldwide’s growing inventory of high-definition, multi-genre output, was first to
market in Australia where it launched on the Foxtel platform in June 2008. Further HD channels are planned in 2008/09.
By the last quarter of 2007/08 BBC America had more than doubled its rating in the key 25-54 age group year on
year. Whilst still a niche cable channel, 7m subscribers were added within the year and the channel is now available
in over 60m homes (53.8% of all US households). Factors triggering this crucial turnaround included a crisp new
schedule introduced in early 2007 featuring a raft of high-profile UK series such as Torchwood and Top Gear. Also,
a new US-facing BBC World News nightly bulletin, anchored by the BBC’s former Senior North America TV Correspondent
Matt Frei, was introduced in October 2007.
2007/08 has been a highly successful year for UKTV. Its channels, which include UKTV Gold and Dave,
offer a range of quality programming across the entertainment, lifestyle and factual genres and reach 20m
unique homes via pay-TV and free-to-air platforms.
A major step forward in the strategy to review UKTV’s entertainment brands was the launch of Dave in October 2007,
targeting mainly men in the 16-44 age group. Its innovative marketing, coupled with an enticing schedule of comedy and
entertainment, made this an instant hit and it rapidly tripled its audience share to become the third most popular
non-terrestrial entertainment channel for this viewer group. In March 2008, the well known TV duo Richard Madeley and
Judy Finnigan were signed to develop their own 60-minute daily primetime entertainment show on UKTV from autumn 2008.
BBC Worldwide also has stakes in UK.TV in Australia and New Zealand with Foxtel and FremantleMedia, BBC Canada and BBC
Kids with CanWest Inc in Canada, People & Arts with Discovery Channels Inc in Hispanic territories, and Animal Planet with
Discovery Channels Inc worldwide.
BBC Worldwide Channels has made good progress in establishing its new five-channel portfolio, alongside BBC World News,
in many of its identified target markets. Its focus for 2008/09 is to launch the channels in Latin America, Australia and
Africa and announce further deals in Europe. It will also be a period of consolidating the growth gained to date and
continuing to invest in delivering uniquely compelling and relevant channels for each territory. As a result of the
continuing investment in the new channels, profits are expected to fall next year, before rising over the longer term.