BBC Looks Overseas for Revenue Growth

30 October 2007

LONDON: In the light of the UK government's draconian budget constraints on the BBC's domestic activities, the media giant is to seek new revenue streams via its international commercial unit, BBC Worldwide.

The unit has been set a profits target of £222 million ($455.41m; €316.48m) over the next five years, much of which it hopes to earn in the USA.

BBC Worldwide aims to launch an additional thirty channels across the globe, plus a high definition, mixed genre TV service. In the US it will also offer a content on-demand facility.

In addition to twenty-one new channels, due to launch from next April and phased over a two year period, there will be four other new ventures grouped into thematic brands ...

  • BBC Entertainment
  • BBC Knowledge
  • Lifestyle
  • CBeebies (children's programming).
"There is not a market we are not looking at" says Darren Childs, BBC WW's managing director of channels. "It will take us three to five years to [match] the scale of our competitors, but I am confident we can do it. We are taking on the big American channel providers and there isn't another UK competitor who can."

Childs claims the BBC's plans have been greeted with enthusiasm by global channel providers. "This is a brand-led business and we are trying to build the BBC brand overseas by understanding our audiences better than our competitors," he said.

The BBC's competitors, however, are not enthused, especially by the broadcaster's plans to sell ads on its international websites for the first time.

The BBC wants to "park its tanks on every lawn," complains Hugo Drayton, chairman of the British Internet Publishers' Association. "It is too big and too insensitive to the needs of commercial operators. Selling ads is not very helpful and is clearly detrimental to others."

His complaint cuts no ice with David Moody, BBC WW managing director of digital media and director of strategy. "No business wants more competition. People want us to be only moderately successful but we have very clear instructions to go out and use our commercial returns to subsidise the licence fee."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff