Summary:

BBC Worldwide’s online revenue grew nine percent to £30 million in 2009/10 – but the company still ended up losing £20.8 million on its di…

Doctor Who, Matt Smith

BBC Worldwide’s online revenue grew nine percent to £30 million in 2009/10 – but the company still ended up losing £20.8 million on its digital activities, according to its annual report.

This loss is improved by 28 percent from last year, but much of that is because costs of the ill-fated Kangaroo VOD JV, which last year cost £9.1 million to close, are largely absent in the latest financial year. Here are the three digital components…

1. BBC.com

Sales of advertising on the international-facing news site BBC.com grew 41.7 percent to £14.5 million. But the website’s annual loss grew eight percent £13 million after what the company says was “additional co-investment with the BBC in the technology infrastructure and investment in sales capability”. BBC.com EVP Luke Bradley-Jones talked with paidContent:UK in October about the challenges of building out the online ad sales business in the U.S. last year.

BBCWW is now planning more regionalised BBC.com editions against which to sell more local ads, is still saying it wants to introduce “iPlayer functionality for international audiences” and is planning “a travel site within BBC.com” – a prospect that could suggest integration with LonelyPlanet.com. BBCWW also says it will launch mobile and internet TV apps.

2. Global websites

BBCWW’s four main websites pulled in £500,000 more from advertising, up to £3.8 million, credited to “a huge growth in traffic, social media marketing and a good performance from the ad sales team”. Respectively: gardenersworld ad sales -8.4 percent, bbcgoodfood.com +113.5 percent, topgear.com +25.4 percent and radiotimes.com +16 percent.

The division which licences BBC archive video recorded a £2.5 million loss and saw sales down 16.6 percent to £11.7 million because most of its clients are advertisers.

Non-digital highlights

So, many of BBC Worldwide’s digital activities are still in investment or downturn-recovery stages.

Group-wide profit up 36.5 percent to £145 million on seven percent higher income of £1.074 billion, contributed mostly by other areas…

– Home Entertainment (DVDs, audiobooks, music) contributed £40.3 million of the profit.
– Sales & Distribution (commercial licensing of BBC UK TV productions) made £57.9 million profit.
– Channels (of which BBCWW operates 41 worldwide) made £39.2 million profit .
– Content & Production made £17.6 million profit by making and reselling homegrown TV shows.
– Magazines made £18.4 million profit.

Lonely Planet

Profit up by £5.1 million to £1.9 million, on 19.5 percent higher sales of £51.4 million.

Free and discounted travel guide apps timed to coincide with the Icelandic volcano eruption gave Lonely Planet three million iPhone downloads in April, including pushing sales of other travel apps up by as much as 500 percent.

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