Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


BBC accounts for almost a quarter of all UK video, audio and online time

Corporation confirms it will "consider the merit" of restoring BBC Three as a linear channel

The BBC accounts for 24 per cent of all UK video, audio and online time spent by the average UK adult in an average week.

The figure includes YouTube, social media, general browsing, shopping and search. By contrast, the corporation says Netflix accounts for around 3 per cent of that time.

Even within linear and on-demand TV, the BBC estimates the figure is around 31 per cent of time compared to around 9 per cent for Netflix.

The figures have been revealed as part of the BBC’s Annual Plan. As expected, the Plan includes a commitment to better serve young audiences who, the BBC said, “currently get less value from the BBC.”

Because of its strong performance on iPlayer, the BBC confirmed it will “consider the merit” of restoring BBC Three as a linear channel. “While young people would continue to predominately watch BBC Three content online, we believe that with the depth of content we now have available, there are still more people we could reach through a linear channel,” said the report.

Meanwhile, the Annual Plan said it is considering turning BBC Four into an archive channel, bringing together collections of content from the BBC’s programme library. Most of BBC Four’s original programming would switch to BBC Two.

BBC Four would continue to be available in the UK as part of the licence fee, but outside of the UK, the BBC is exploring “potential commercial opportunities for BBC Four to become a new global subscription service”, aimed at showcasing the BBC’s factual content to the world.

Other key findings in the report include:

  • Viewing of BBC TV has been nearly 50 per cent higher than last year in some weeks, while viewing figures for TV news have hit their highest levels since 2003.
  • Investing in digital services means the BBC is better meeting the demands of audiences, particularly younger people.
  • The BBC has improved its performance with young adults in this period – reaching as many as eight out of ten young people.
  • BBC Three has delivered some of the BBC’s biggest performing programmes, with Normal People now having more than 38m requests to watch it on BBC iPlayer.

The BBC also confirmed it is ready to begin live production “within weeks” should conditions and government advice allow.

BBC director general Tony Hall said, “The pandemic has had far reaching consequences for most organisations. The BBC is no different. In our response, we have always tried to put the public first and deliver our public service remit in its truest sense. The response from audiences has been remarkable.

“We have seen a huge leap in the usage of our services, particularly among young people. The digital improvements we’ve made over the past year mean the BBC is well placed to embrace the future. We can now give audiences the BBC they want – a better iPlayer with more quality programmes available for longer, and a BBC Sounds that is innovating and performing.”