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The main commercial arm of the BBC is preparing to relaunch its advertising-supported international news website, with a focus on the US presidential election next year, and plans to boost TV production through acquisitions as part of an ambitious revenue increase by 2028.
Tom Fussell, CEO of BBC Studios, revealed that the revamped website and app would first be launched in North America before being rolled out worldwide. The new website is expected to attract media buyers with its ability to offer more localized and personalized content in the US. Fussell emphasized the attractiveness of the BBC as a “premium brand” for advertisers.
In anticipation of the upcoming election, the BBC is also ramping up its recruitment efforts, aiming to gain a significant market share due to its reputation as an impartial news source in the US. While BBC Studios took over commercial control of the BBC.com news website globally in 2021, editorial control remains with BBC News.
BBC Studios, responsible for managing the broadcaster’s commercial operations, including hit programs like Doctor Who and UKTV, is becoming an increasingly vital source of income for the BBC. With the UK government freezing the license fee paid by households, which accounts for nearly three-quarters of the broadcaster’s funding, BBC Studios generated £2.1bn in revenue in 2022/23, delivering a record £362mn return to the public broadcaster. In contrast, the license fee brought in £3.8bn. Fussell’s ambitious goal is to double revenues by 2028.
In order to achieve this target, Fussell plans to expand BBC Studios’ TV production arm both organically and through acquisitions. He emphasized the importance of finding companies with the right price and culture. However, he did caution that returns may be lower in the coming year due to investment plans.
Over a third of BBC Studios’ productions are made for other broadcasters, making it the largest exporter of UK TV content. Additionally, it is the primary producer of shows for the BBC in the UK, such as Strictly Come Dancing, which it also sells the rights to internationally.
Fussell acknowledged that the TV production industry is facing challenges from rising costs and reduced demand from streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, which have scaled back their spending. However, he expressed confidence in the BBC’s ability to weather the storm, citing its low-risk, high-quality content as a draw for subscribers.
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