After going online, BBC Three returns to air

LONDON – When the BBC broadcasts a television channel focused on youth and move it went online in 2016, the broadcaster went where its viewers seem to be.

Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon have changed the way people – both in the UK and US – watch TV and BBC Three’s target audience from 16 to 34 years old obviously turn away from traditional TV channels.

Now, the British public service broadcaster has made a turning point: BBC Three – which broadcasts programs such as “Fleabag” and “Ordinary People” – is back on terrestrial television.

The move reflects ongoing challenges in understanding how the Internet is changing TV viewing habits. And it shows the BBC is doubling down on its youth programming as it deals with competition and the possibility of budget cuts.

BBC Three was launched in 2003 as the younger brother of two long-standing BBC television channels. It produces provocative comedies such as “The Mighty Boosh” and “Little Britain” that appeal to a younger audience than conventional programming on BBC One and Two. The decision to make BBC Three a streaming channel also came with big budget cuts, between 85 and 30 million pounds (about $114 million to $40 million).

“It was a disaster. And it was an immediate disaster,” said Patrick Barwise, co-author of the book “The Fight Against the BBC,” about the move.

Follow data from Endersa research firm.

In fact, there is evidence that millions of households have not yet switched to streaming. In an interview, Fiona Campbell, head of BBC Three, pointed to a recent report on Americans’ TV viewing habits from Nielsen that shows that 64% of viewers still regularly watch cable TV, compared to 26% who watch online.

The idea that young people are turning away from traditional TV also seems more complex than it did six years ago. BBC Three’s relaunch is also aimed at making its programming more accessible, especially to rural and more affluent audiences who may not have access to high-speed internet, Campbell said. and less likely to stream.

Credit…via BBC

According to Barwise, many younger audiences are also adopting a hybrid approach. “People usually watch Netflix or other video, and then they’re watching broadcast television,” he said. Despite the decline, younger viewers still watch more one hour broadcast live every day, according to Ofcom, the British media regulator.

In its stream-only years, BBC Three still produces some of the broadcaster’s most popular programmes, and the new investment in the channel – its programming budget will return £80m – comes at a time when the BBC is facing pressure from many sides .

British Government recently announced that the country’s royalty fees, which are charged annually to all TV households and are the main source of BBC funding, will be frozen for the next two years. With inflation accelerating in the UK, this could mean another cut, and BBC Director Tim Davie said that “Everything is on the agenda.”

Roger Mosey, former director of BBC Television, said: “Freezing the BBC’s royalties at a time when inflation is really high and inflation in the broadcasting industry is really high, is not could be a good time. News. “You don’t just have competition from streamers for the audience, you also have competition for talent.”

In this context, the mass broadcaster is betting on BBC Three’s track record in producing buzzing programs that combine the appeal of traditional “linear” television. In the UK, despite the seemingly limitless availability of streaming content, viewers remain focused on watching weekly appointments.

The BBC releases many of its popular shows as complete seasons on iPlayer, its streaming service, at the same time as the first episode airs on broadcast television. Charlotte Moore, head of content at the BBC, said in a phone interview that with “The Tourist,” a TV series starring Jamie Dornan, “we still get two million people. choose to watch it on Sunday night even though it’s all on iPlayer. ”

When the BBC Three show “Ordinary People” is broadcast on the broadcaster’s traditional channels, it is frequently a trending topic on British social media. “When we show that really drives the conversation,” says Campbell, “people want to participate in the moment live. And that’s why channels still have a role to play. ”

Campbell also believes there are limitations to only distributing shows through streaming, as viewers may be more hesitant to watch documentaries on challenging public service topics. Citing a recent series of revenge porn, she said, “They are very challenging subjects, and people will go, ‘Do I really want to go there?’ While if they encountered it on the linear, it could be less scary. “

While Moore did not say whether BBC Three would be exempt from the next round of budget cuts, she indicated that youth programming would remain a core focus. “Obviously we’re going to be going through our entire funding envelope to figure out how we’re going to meet every need of our audience, with the money we have,” she said. “But of course, young audiences will continue to be an important part of that.”

With a return to broadcasting, Campbell also hopes to make BBC Three stand out from commercial streaming rivals by telling stories from across the UK. Upcoming shows include “Brickies,” which follows young bricklayers in northern England, and a tractor racing competition called “The Fast and the Farmer(ish), was filmed in Northern Ireland and was created to appeal to the 11 million young people living in rural England.

“You want to reflect on the current challenges, pressures and hardships that people are facing, post-pandemic,” says Campbell. “If we don’t reflect that, then why do they need us in their lives?”

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/01/arts/television/bbc-three-streaming-broadcast.html After going online, BBC Three returns to air

Fry Electronics Team

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