Strong overseas sales of shows such as Doctor Who and Planet Earth helped the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, to increase its profits by 24% last year.
More than 1.9 million Doctor Who DVDs have been sold worldwide
The division reported record pre-tax profits including exceptional items of £111.1m, up from £89.4m a year earlier.
Sales of programme formats and income from foreign channels boosted profits but losses from digital media widened.
BBC Director General Mark Thompson said BBC Worldwide had delivered "excellent returns for licence payers".
Income generated by the sale of BBC content and other commercial ventures is ploughed back into programme making.
Total sales in the year to 31 March rose to £810.4m from £785.1m the year before.
Notable success stories included Doctor Who, Torchwood, Life on Mars and Planet Earth.
The natural history series, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, has generated £22m in global sales to date.
Profits from the BBC's 28 foreign channels rose sharply to £20.9m from £6.9m.
But losses at digital media operations widened to £3.9m from £1.6m after investment in proposed projects such as a commercial media player and the bbc.com website.
A spokesman said "long-term investment" had been put into key projects as Worldwide pursued its aim of generating 10% of future revenues from digital services.
BBC Worldwide was playing a "major part" in the corporation's strategy, Mr Thompson said.
"Its success is increasingly critical to our ability to invest in original creative programming for audiences in the UK," he added.