BBC Studios is the latest major international studio to reveal how the coronavirus pandemic has blown a hole in its earnings.
The BBC’s commercial arm, which makes shows including Doctor Who and Good Omens, posted an EBITDA of £151 million ($209M) in the year to the end of March 2021. This was down or £30M ($41M), or 17%, on the same period last year.
BBC Studios’ revenue fell 10% to £1.25B, according to the BBC’s annual report published Tuesday. Like many production houses, BBC Studios had to down tools on more than half of its shows for months during the pandemic. Advertising revenue also decreased.
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Despite the financial performance, BBC chairman Richard Sharp said BBC Studios had a “better year than anticipated.” Indeed, its 17% profit hit compared favorably to other major European studios.
ITV Studios was one of the first producers to detail the damage, revealing in March that its EBITA dropped 43% to £152M in 2020. Too Hot To Handle producer Fremantle was also thwacked by the virus — its EBITA stood at €87M in the full year 2020, down 39% on €142M in 2019.
Those that performed better than BBC Studios included Banijay (EBITDA dropped 13% from €385M in 2019 to €334M) and Red Arrow Studios (EBITDA fell 12.6% to €42M last year).
BBC Studios’ commercial return to the license fee-funded BBC was £137M in 2020/21, which was down 50% of the previous 12 months. BBC Studios said that it remains on course to deliver commercial returns of £1.2B to the BBC by March 2022.
BBC Studios interim CEO Tom Fussell said: “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.
“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.”
Deadline has chronicled BBC Studios’ protracted hunt for a new CEO, which has seen the commercial arm snubbed by a number of senior figures over the past year, including former Endemol Shine Group CEO Sophie Turner Laing.
Asked about the search during a press briefing today, BBC director general Tim Davie told Deadline that the production house is “looking properly for the right person” and has an “outstanding” interim in Fussell.