John Smith today announced that he has decided to step down after eight years as Chief Executive Officer of BBC Worldwide. Following Smith’s decision, BBC Director-General George Entwistle announced that Tim Davie, the BBC’s Director of Audio & Music, will succeed Smith as CEO of BBC Worldwide from December 1.
Under Smith’s leadership, the BBC’s commercial arm has grown into a major global media company, doubling its revenue, growing profits four-fold, almost tripling margins and returning more than £1.3 billion to the BBC.
Smith, who has helped turn Doctor Who, Top Gear and Dancing With The Stars into global franchises and recently unveiled profits of £155 million in the last financial year, told staff he is leaving the BBC to pursue new opportunities in the commercial sector.
Smith’s tenure has produced remarkable results. BBC Worldwide has become the world’s largest owner of TV channels and the largest TV distributor outside of US companies. The channels operation now attracts over 360 million subscribers around the world to its BBC-branded portfolio of channels. He has created new relationships with UK independent TV producers and set up an international production business producing Dancing With The Stars as well as other TV formats. He has brought the website BBC.com into profit one year ahead of schedule and successfully launched the BBC’s new commercial Global iPlayer in 16 countries.