BBC Studios’ profit dropped 17% year-on-year, mainly as a result of production pauses caused by the pandemic. The figures come as part of the BBC’s Annual Report, released today.

BBC Studios’ overall sales were £1,255 million (2019/20: £1,388 million), a decline of 10%. Profit (EBITDA) was £151 million (2019/20: £181 million), a year-on-year reduction of 17% “as reduced costs partially offset lower revenues.”

Returns to the BBC, primarily investment in programming, were £137 million (2019/20: £276 million). The commercial arm says it is  “on track” to deliver its five-year target of £1.2 billion in returns to the BBC as planned by the end of the next financial year.

Tom Fussell, interim CEO of BBC Studios, said: “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 programmes 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 £1.5bn set by the BBC over the five years from 21/22.”

Elsewhere in the annual report, the BBC says it was used by 90% of adults on average per week during the reporting period.

Time spent with the BBC went up to 18 hrs 2 minutes – from 17 hrs 45 minutes on average, per week. Over 28 million people came to the BBC for evening entertainment on an average day.

BBC iPlayer attracted 6.1 billion streams – up 28% on last year, and in January, there were a record 163 million streams in one week, for programmes including The Serpent, A Perfect Planet, Traces and EastEnders.

Staff numbers were cut with the BBC’s total public sector workforce reduced by over 1,200 – 6% of the total workforce.  Senior leader numbers are also down by over 5%. The BBC has also cut the wage bills of top stars by 10%.

BBC Chairman, Richard Sharp, said:  “I’m proud of what the BBC has done to rally round 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.”

BBC Director General, Tim Davie, said: “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 licence fee payers across the UK get best value from the BBC, to maintain their trust and provide a service they cannot do without.   I am absolutely focussed on making the reforms we need to ensure the BBC is positioned to offer all audiences the best possible service well into the future.”

Jon Creamer

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