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BBC: “Ignore linear channels at your peril”

Delivering video across devices is an important part of the BBC’s future according to director of audiences Nick North (pictured) – but not at the expense of the public broadcaster’s linear channels. In the session ‘Future Consumer, Content Everywhere and Always On’ panel, the BBC executive spoke about the challenges of catering for a digitally native audience which was “significantly changing” the way it consumed content.

“There are competitors forthis audience’s time and attention and we need to think how we respond to this,” he said. “Delivering video across devices is an important part of the future.“

North added that social media and other text-based forms of engagement were other time competitors that shouldn’t be underestimated. “We need to accept that the growth of communication may come at the expense of entertainment and we need to figure out our role in this changing market.”

However, he warned that the public broadcaster’s role “to bring audience to the BBC and bring the BBC to the audience” still involved investing in its linear channels. “The market may be changing but we can’t neglect our linear channels – they are the biggest and most powerful means of fulfilling our purpose. A third of all viewers may be viewing by catch up but it’s the linear channels that help to drive this.”

Using linear and online to cross promote, North concluded, has been the best way of increasing audience share. The BBC’s six part comedy Car Share was made available online ahead of its broadcast premier.

“Making all six episodes available ultimately drove a much bigger audience,” North added.