Australia and New Zealand
In BBC Worldwide Australia and New Zealand, we wholly own and operate six BBC branded channels, distribute content to all the local platform providers and focus on growth across all our core business areas. We work with partners to bring DVDs, live events, entertainment formats and consumer products to the market, as well as offering advertising opportunities on BBC.com.
Our Australia and New Zealand business delivered excellent growth in both revenue and profit in local currency, up 11.8% and 13.2% respectively, as the benefits of new strategic priorities and partnerships fed into our financial results. Translated into sterling, headline sales of £81.9m (2013/14: £76.0m) were up 7.8% and headline profit of £16.3m (2013/14: £13.3m) increased 22.6%. This was largely attributable to our channels and digital TV sales businesses, with both lines showing double-digit growth, well ahead of the Australian media market.
The principal drivers of growth were a number of key partnerships formed in 2013 and 2014. Our partnership with Foxtel saw the debut of BBC First in August become the platform's most successful non-sport channel launch since 2006. Stand-out ratings successes include launch titles The Musketeers and Peaky Blinders, along with series four of the long-running BBC series Call the Midwife and critically acclaimed The Missing, which was supported by a publicity visit from lead actor James Nesbitt.
Meanwhile, BBC First's maiden co-commission, Jimmy McGovern's Banished, with BBC Two, was partly filmed in Sydney. BBC First advertising sales were strong during the year as a result of premium partnerships, and the renewed key sponsorship deal with Audi.
The launch of BBC First saw general entertainment channel BBC UKTV move onto Foxtel's entry level Entertainment tier, resulting in an uplift to its audience, while this year BBC Knowledge broadcast series 22 of Top Gear just minutes after the UK. In New Zealand, UKTV achieved Sky TV's number two entertainment channel ranking during the year. In February our portfolio of Australian channels launched on high-growth IPTV platform Fetch TV. We anticipate future success from further growth in BBC First, and are evaluating opportunities for additional channel launches in the region.
The return of Doctor Who S8 on the ABC in August, with more opportunities to view on linear and digital, delivered an increased audience, and Sydney was one of five international stops on the World Tour. A Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular tour visited Perth, Adelaide, Auckland and Sydney in February. Other stand-out BBC titles on the ABC included Call the Midwife, Silent Witness and Death in Paradise, while our natural history programming continued to do well with Life rating highly on Channel Nine five years after its original broadcast.
TV format sales this year encompassed a range of well-loved British factual and entertainment titles appearing on a wide variety of channels. This included a second series of Coast Australia on The History Channel, and also available to UK audiences on BBC Two; a 14th series of Dancing with the Stars on Seven; and Living with the Enemy on SBS. New format commissions, generated since we entered into a general entertainment production partnership with FremantleMedia Australia, included The Great Australian Bake Off on Lifestyle FOOD and Rachel Khoo's Kitchen Notebook Melbourne on SBS in Australia. In New Zealand we sold Coast New Zealand to TV ONE and Dancing with the Stars to TV3.
We achieved a record result across digital TV sales, up fourfold in the year. Our digital reach was also extended in the year with new deals including OTT platforms Stan., Netflix and Lightbox, meaning that our content is now available on over 15 digital platforms in the region. The strength of our catalogue should underpin future sales activity, both in finished programmes and formats.
Rachel Khoo's Kitchen Notebook Melbourne ©Fremantle Media Australia