Profits hit a £160m high at BBC Worldwide

The international success of hit shows including Doctor Who and Sherlock saw the BBC's commercial arm post record profits last year. The strong performance also meant that the head of the division's total pay packet overtook that of the Director-General.

BBC Worldwide yesterday published its annual review for the year to the end of March, which revealed headline profits rising 10.2 per cent to £160.2m.

Other successful shows last year included Top Gear and Waking the Dead as well as Dancing with the Stars, the US version of Strictly Come Dancing. Yesterday, Worldwide also announced that from today Facebook users would be able to rent episodes of Doctor Who from the site directly.

John Smith, its chief executive, said: "This was BBC Worldwide's most successful year ever in championing great UK content around the globe. By offering world-class British programming and brands that resonate with global audiences, we were able to lift revenues beyond £1bn for a third year in succession."

He added that Worldwide's role in driving growth for wider UK creative industries and reinvesting money back into the BBC was "more important than ever in a tough financial climate".

Worldwide's performance saw Mr Smith secure a £138,000 bonus, liftinghis remuneration packet to £898,000 – 9.6 per cent higher than the previous year. Mark Thompson, the BBC Director-General, received £779,000.

Sales rose almost 8 per cent to £1.1bn in the year to the end of March, up from £1bn a year earlier. Mr Smith said the investment drive in the division from a few years ago "was paying off".

North American operations grew after the appointment of Herb Scannell last June to head the region, while the group is also looking for executives in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America to help expansion.

Digital sales, which came online and on mobile phones, rose to 8.1 per cent of total sales with revenues from the website more than doubling in the US. The business aims to make it a tenth of sales by the end of next year. This year will also see the international roll out of the iPlayer.

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