Tony Hall, director-general, BBC; Danny Cohen, director, BBC Television; and Damian Kavanagh, project lead, BBC Three, yesterday announced a proposal to relaunch BBC Three, a key element of the BBC's overall strategy.
Prominent in the plan is the channel’s move from broadcasting nine hours a day to a 24-hour service, not only on iPlayer, but also distributed on third party sites including YouTube and Facebook. It is hoped that the move online will ‘build digital awareness in much the same way that BBC News Online encouraged take up of the internet and BBC iPlayer helped to build the market for Video On Demand (VOD) services,’ according to a statement from the broadcaster.
The new service will focus on long form content, with 80 per cent of budget going on long form programming. More individualised and interactive content has been promised, based on two key pillars – ‘Make me Think’ and ‘Make me Laugh.’ New forms of content will be introduced including micro-videos, listicles and gifs, which will be granted 20 per cent of budget. In addition, a daily news service will be created in conjunction with Radio 1’s Newsbeat.
“When we announced our plans to move BBC Three online, we admitted we were doing it earlier than hoped but it’s become clear that for young audiences, their shift from linear to TV to online is already happening,” commented Kavanagh. “It now represents 28 per cent of the average daily viewing for 16-24s, with forecasts from Enders Analysis suggesting this will be as high as 40 per cent by 2020. Our proposal is to re-invent BBC Three for the digital age and to take risks with ideas, talent and technology. We want to take what’s great about BBC Three and what’s great about digital and merge the two, to give audiences something of the digital world, not just in it. This is not moving a TV channel and putting it online. This is new. We are the first broadcaster in the world to propose something like this.”
Moving BBC Three to online will allow CBBC to broadcast for an extra two hours in the evening and will also allow for a BBC One+1 channel to be launched. BBC One+ is designed to enable viewers without access to broadband and iPlayer greater availability to programmes.
With the license fee frozen, it was inevitable that restructures at the BBC would take place. Hall describes the ‘challenge’ of the freeze, but asserts, “we’ve managed to come up one of the most exciting and ambitious proposals I’ve seen since I came back to the BBC.”