BBC Worldwide North America is our largest business outside the UK. It includes content sales and co-productions, consumer products, BBC.com, and BBC Worldwide Productions.
2014/15 was a significant year, primarily due to our entering into a long-term strategic agreement with AMC Networks (AMCN), which invested US$200.0m for a 49.9% stake in BBC AMERICA. In a market that has witnessed increased consolidation, this venture was an important next step for the cable channel and positioned it for future growth as one of a slate of successful channels operated by AMCN.
Headline sales for the region declined by 12.5% from £342.5m to £299.9m and headline profit saw a year-on-year decline from £44.1m to £32.9m, almost solely due to the reduced ownership stake in BBC AMERICA under the venture in the last half of the year. At constant currency these declines were 10.7% and 16.9% respectively.
On BBC AMERICA, Doctor Who continued to grow with the debut of the Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi, and launch of series eight delivering the show's highest ratings to date - up 19.7% versus prior series, with an average of 2.2m viewers each week - while licensing sales on the title returned year-on-year growth of 29.1%. Orphan Black, the original awardwinning BBC AMERICA series became the first drama on US ad‑supported television to double its series one audience in key advertising demographics (Adults 18-49, Adults 25-54) when it returned for a second series - establishing itself as a core franchise for North America.
BBC AMERICA successfully achieved its 10th consecutive year of ratings growth in 2014/15 - viewership grew 3.0% in the key primetime viewing slot, while over half of US cable networks experienced year-on-year declines.
Our focus on extending fan engagement with premium titles such as Doctor Who, Orphan Black and Top Gear reached new heights. BBCAmerica.com visitors increased by 9.9% and Facebook followers doubled to 2.4m. Doctor Who remains the number one TV brand on Tumblr and ranks among Twitter's top five most-tweeted about original dramas.
Building on our suite of successful co-productions, this year we secured a significant deal between the BBC and PBS to create upwards of ten factual programmes per year.
Digital content sales reported another successful year, seeing gains of 54.1% and surpassing linear TV sales for the first time in the region, which highlights the growing demand on digital platforms and audiences' appetite for greater choice in how they consume our content. Core revenue drivers included exclusive SVOD deals for Sherlock and Happy Valley, delivery of over 3,000 episodes licensed to Hulu since 2010, and a significant multi-year Netflix catalogue deal spanning multiple genres including BBC Earth titles.
While the DVD market in the territory has seen severe declines in revenue across the board, our consumer products division has seen only a marginal decline and the success of digital content sales has helped to balance this out.
The feature sections of BBC.com continued to draw new users - an increase of 86.3% in the USA and Canada - reaching over 5.1m unique browsers each month. This growth is supported by the introduction of more video rich content and the launch of a BBC Earth section that averaged 1.1m unique browsers per month across the USA and Canada since launching in September.
Revenue from the production business in Los Angeles declined slightly, driven by a shift in scheduling of the hit show Da Vinci's Demons on Starz. However, the appetite for popular UK show formats remained strong, seeing commission renewals for the much-loved programme Dancing with the Stars for ABC, which celebrates its 10th year and 20th series in 2015, as well as a fourth series of the US version of Top Gear. Original unscripted commission renewals included Life Below Zero and Ladies of London.
Orphan Black ©BBC Worldwide