Content breaks records in year of reform and change

"I’m proud of what the BBC has done to rally round the needs of the country throughout the Covid crisis. It has demonstrated very clearly the enduring importance of its public service mission. And against a landscape of unprecedented market pressures, it has kept delivering world-class programming across all genres" — Richard Sharp, BBC Chairman



Despite the challenges of lockdown (for the period this annual report covers), the BBC delivered on its public service mission to inform, educate and entertain with record numbers.

This has been achieved while making the BBC leaner - a key priority. Our total public sector workforce has reduced by over 1,200 - six percent of the total workforce - the first significant drop in five years. Our senior leader numbers are also down by over five percent. We have also reduced spend on our top stars by 10 percent.

Time spent with the BBC went up to 18 hrs two minutes - from 17 hrs 45 minutes on average, per week. Over 28 million people came to the BBC for evening entertainment on an average day, and since April 2020 our brilliant content has won 130 awards.

BBC iPlayer attracted record audiences with 6.1 billion streams - up 28 percent on last year, and in January, there were a record 163 million streams in one week, as viewers devoured programmes like The Serpent, A Perfect Planet, Traces and EastEnders. The picture is moving swiftly.

In recent weeks an incredible 39 million people have watched the Euros, and 20 million have watched Wimbledon on the BBC this summer so far - with the Olympics and the Hundred still to come.

In 2020/21 there were 1.3bn billion plays on BBC Sounds, with 900,000 more 16-34 year-olds using it for the first time in last six months, exceeding expectations.

In a year of complex news, as the UK battled the global coronavirus pandemic, audiences for the BBC News At Six were the largest in almost two decades. BBC One’s 6.30pm bulletin in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions is the UK’s most watched news programme.

The need for engaging, varied and impartial news coverage has never been stronger - and we have reaffirmed our commitment to impartiality in the last 12 months, publishing new guidance, introduced new training for all staff, and increased transparency through an External Events Register for news and current affairs staff.

Renewing our commitment to impartiality was part of a new strategic direction for the future of the BBC, which we announced in September, alongside a focus on unique, high-impact content; delivering more from online; and building our commercial income.

We also announced significant plans to shift people and decision making away from London, in the biggest transformation for decades through our Across The UK plan. By 2027/28 the BBC will be spending, at the very least, an extra £700m cumulatively across the UK - generating an additional economic benefit of over £850m. This will ensure we better reflect all parts of the UK, dramatically increase opportunities for jobs and training and improve representation on and off screen.

BBC Studios has had a resilient year in difficult circumstances, and while sales are down 10 percent and profit (EBITDA) down 17 percent - driven by production pauses and constraints - these are ahead of our expectations. In spite of the challenges caused by the pandemic, Studios profits still helped to return £137m into making quality programmes for the licence fee payer.

BBC Chairman Richard Sharp says: “I’m proud of what the BBC has done to rally round the needs of the country throughout the Covid crisis. It has demonstrated very clearly the enduring importance of its public service mission. And against a landscape of unprecedented market pressures, it has kept delivering world-class programming across all genres.

“I believe the strategy the BBC has in place is the right one. While there is more work to do - particularly around impartiality, which the BBC has to get right - the BBC is on the right path.”

BBC Director General Tim Davie says: “The BBC has delivered outstanding content and value to audiences in extraordinary circumstances this year. I am proud of all we have achieved to inform, educate and entertain the Nation in record numbers during the pandemic.

“The BBC is responding to global competition and pressure on our finances. But, we know we must do much more to ensure licence fee payers across the UK get best value from the BBC, to maintain their trust and provide a service they cannot do without. I am absolutely focussed on making the reforms we need to ensure the BBC is positioned to offer all audiences the best possible service well into the future.”


Notes to Editors

The Annual Report and Accounts 2020/21 can be found BELOW.

Awards: Over 130 won since last April - including, just in the last few weeks:

31 out of 48 Baftas

16 out of 23 Broadcast awards, with Channel Of The Year for BBC Two

16 out 25 gold wins at the Audio & Radio Industry Awards, from best news coverage to best music breakfast show to best local station

The diversity of our people: The annual report shows the diversity of our workforce has remained broadly the same as last year - during a period where most recruitment was frozen. We want to go further and faster, which is why we launched a new Diversity And Inclusion plan which sets out how we will become an industry leader and a modern 50:20:12 organisation. We also committed to offering 1,000 apprenticeships in any year, to ensure BBC staff can be drawn from all backgrounds across the country. Our gender pay gap continues to decrease - and has almost halved in the last four years to a historic low of 5.2 percent, with work continuing to bring it down even further in the future.

Savings and efficiencies: We have continued to have industry leading overheads at only 5 percent of our total costs. We delivered £272m annual recurring savings (up from £199m the previous year), bringing our cumulative savings since 2017/18 to £890m this financial year. In 2021/22, we are projecting our recurring savings total to rise above £950 million.

BBC Studios: Studios is on track to meet its £1.2bn target by 2021/22 and we have set a further ambitious target of £1.5bn financial returns over the next five years from 2022/23 (up 30 percent on the last five years).

Details of expenses for Q3 (October-December) and Q4 (January-March) 2020/21 for senior managers who earn over £150k are also published today.

Alongside the Annual Report the following documents have also been published:

TV Licensing Annual Review

BBC Television Licence Fee Trust Statement

The BBC’s Commissioning Supply Report

BBC Press Office

Source BBC One

July 7, 2021 5:02am ET by BBC One  


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