Drive digital


Why digital?

The digital media revolution is progressing at a rapid pace, impacting on traditional media sectors. Digital is becoming increasingly important to our industry's future and is where our consumers, platforms, and devices are heading. BBC Worldwide has long understood this and sees digital platforms as an opportunity both to bring new audiences to our content and to produce new and unique forms of content and entertainment.

How are we doing it?

With consumers' increasing wish for content anytime and anywhere, we are meeting their needs by pursuing multiple distribution opportunities and business models. Our focus is to gain competitive advantage through driving digital reach and revenue growth across multiple platforms - websites, apps, connected TV, social networks and consumer electronics like games consoles.

As new operators emerge, BBC Worldwide has been at the forefront of the industry, experimenting with our content on new platforms to ensure that BBC-branded programmes reach the widest possible audience.

BBC News ipad

  • On BBC.com unique users have
    risen from 55.1m to 58.5m this year

We do this through a combination of building our own direct to consumer propositions like the pilot of the Global BBC iPlayer and BBC.com, which enhance our existing multiplatform offer, as well as making our content available to audiences on third-party platforms like iTunes, Amazon, Netflix and Hulu. We are also developing new digital entertainment propositions. For example, we have developed 11 games titles in the last 12 months and increased the global reach of BBC.com to 58.5m unique visitors in 2011/12.

Since its launch in 2007, we have worked hard to build BBC.com into a profitable business and in the year ahead, as directed by the BBC Executive Board in January 2012, we will pass ownership of the news areas of the site over to Global News, enabling it to reinvest profits from the news areas of BBC.com into its core news journalism functions. We expect to continue to own and operate the other areas of BBC.com and we will work closely with Global News to help to continue to drive BBC.com's performance forward as an important part of the BBC Worldwide digital portfolio.

Progress against targets

We are pleased with the results so far. Four years ago, BBC Worldwide's digital revenue was 2.7% of the total. This year it is 12.8%, having experienced a 63% Compound Annual Growth Rate over that term. This growth has come from new opportunities for our business. We are expecting to deliver 15% of our revenue from digital businesses by 2015. Further progress against the objectives laid out in last year's annual review is set out over the page.

Very strong growth in sales to subscription video-on-demand services (SVOD) has been driven by licensing our content to a host of platforms including Netflix and LOVEFiLM for their UK market debuts. We have also signed video-on-demand (VOD) deals with Rostelcom and Tvigle.ru in Russia, Spiegel in Germany, FetchTV and Quickflix in Australia, Hulu in Japan and Youzee in Spain among others. In the download-to-own market, our programming continues to be attractive to a global audience. In 2011, Doctor Who Series 6 was the most downloaded series on US iTunes and Sherlock Series 1 has reached the number one position in Australia, France, Germany and Canada, a great validation of the international appeal of our content.

BBC.com launched three new editions, for Asia, India and Australia/New Zealand, in November 2011, to keep advancing our strategy of a more localised BBC.com experience and to maintain its position as the number one international news site in Asia Pacific. Other content enhancements included the refresh of the Sport section of the website ahead of an exciting summer including the Olympics and UEFA Euro 2012. Future - the second specialist vertical following the travel section the year before - was launched in February, offering users in-depth analysis on the latest trends in the worlds of science, technology, health and the environment. We also launched our first award-winning Connected TV app exclusively with Samsung allowing users to access news video and text on demand through televisions and Blu-ray players.


  • Our first massively multiplayer online social
    game Doctor Who: Worlds in Time entered
    beta phase in March

In Asia, to drive the appeal of our content, BBC Worldwide entered into a partnership with a crowdsourcing and subtitling service, Viki.com, in October 2011. Viki.com crowdsources subtitles, enabling BBC Worldwide to break down language and distribution barriers, opening up new markets faster and more efficiently.

Our digital properties continue to go from strength to strength with bbcgoodfood.com's unique visitors up strongly by 58.5%. On topgear.com, 74.7% of the page views for the website are now from outside the UK and the international appeal of the brand continues to grow.

Over 700,000 people are now registered to lonelyplanet.com. The website received over half a billion page views in 2011/12 and now reaches a monthly average of 11.3m unique users (up 35.8% on last year). Overall downloads of Lonely Planet iPhone apps have now reached 10m. Lonely Planet eBooks have also been a big growth area, with more than 260 titles available and revenue up over 200% year on year.

As the mobile and tablet market has grown so too has the demand for all our apps. BBC Worldwide has seen considerable growth in paid for, freemium and advertising supported apps with over 25m apps downloaded to date and 12.5m apps downloaded in 2011/12.

Our specialist games business has been at the forefront of this growth with Top Gear's Stunt School app launched for the iPhone and iPad this year, which has now been downloaded 2.4m times.

Games have seen growth beyond mobile online. We have now launched a Top Gear games portal which features 87 games. Our first massively multiplayer online social game, Doctor Who: Worlds In Time, entered beta phase in March. A new Doctor Who game, The Eternity Clock for the Sony PlayStation3 and its new handheld Vita platform is currently in development. Also in development this year was the first ever Dancing with the Stars free-to-play casual multiplayer online game where fans can pair up virtually with professional dancers from the show and choreograph routines.

As consumers increasingly use the internet to watch programmes, we decided to launch a pilot of a global on-demand service in July 2011. The Global BBC iPlayer is a subscription app, piloted on a number of Apple platforms and provides a selection of contemporary and classic British television with a unique focus on editorial curation to guide users through almost 2,000 hours of content. For more information please visit the Performance Review.

Digital technologies underpin the work we are doing to get closer to customers, particularly our investment in electronic Customer Relationship Management (eCRM) and social media, and our digital and marketing teams partner closely across this space.


Objectives 2011/12

  • Invest in BBC.com, particularly by localising the service for selected markets, further expanding our content offering into factual and lifestyle, and building our user base

  • Continue to expand TV distribution across all digital platforms, including piloting the Global BBC iPlayer

  • Develop a bigger games portfolio and more mobile services and apps

  • Enhance our e-commerce capabilities

  • Manage a gradual transition from physical products to digital


  • New editions for India, Australia/New Zealand and Asia launched, along with BBC.com/future, which achieved double our expectations of unique users in its first month

  • BBC.com in 2011/12 attracted 58.5m unique users outside the UK, up from 55.1m the year before

  • BBC.com remains the number one international news site across Asia Pacific and EMEA. It is also the fastest growing international news site in the US among affluent individuals, with an increase of 12.0% year on year

  • Sales to SVOD services almost trebled in the year

  • The pilot of the Global BBC iPlayer was launched in July 2011

  • 11 games released in the year

  • 78 apps launched in the year, taking total to 375, with a further 30 in development

  • Continued to work on a mix of fully owned and industry standard e-commerce opportunities

  • Continued focus on organic investment in digital, including hybrid product, complemented by exit from BBC Magazines

Objectives 2012/13

  • Increase the breadth of content and localisation of BBC.com

  • Continue to expand our distribution across all digital platforms

  • Continue growth in apps with increased focus on second screen and connected TV

  • Continue our growth in games to extend the engagement with our brands

  • Make all our digital products more social

  • Develop our existing e-commerce capabilities



  • BBC.com/future was launched in February, offering users in-depth debates on the latest trends in the worlds of science, technology, health and the environment



  • Over the past year BBC.com/travel has witnessed a 20% growth in engagement from users. The BBC.com/travel Facebook fan base grew 243%



  • We are expecting to deliver 15% of our revenue from digital businesses by 2015



  • Over 25m apps have been downloaded to date, with 12.5m apps downloaded in 2011/12


bbc news app

  • Lonely Planet iPhone apps have now reached 10m downloads. Our top three apps were the BBC News app, Top Gear Stunt School and the Global BBC iPlayer



  • BBC Worldwide entered into a partnership with an Asian crowdsourcing and subtitling service, Viki.com, in October 2011





  • A Top Gear games portal has been launched which features 87 games




  • Rapid growth rate in sales to subscription video-on-demand services (SVOD) has seen us
    license content to Netflix and
    Lovefilm for their UK market debuts