BBC Three to become a digital only channel from early 2016

The BBC announced that from early 2016, BBC Three will become a digital only channel.

The BBC Trust approved the plans to ‘reinvent’ BBC Three online and the channel’s controller Damian Kavanagh emphasised it wasn’t being downgraded, rather ‘today is just the beginning for BBC Three and our plans to transform our offer for young people’.

He said, in a statement: “Technology has changed and what young people want has changed so we are changing to give young people a BBC Three that fits their lives today and in the future. We will now set about launching a digital first BBC Three in early 2016.

“When BBC Three launched in February 2003 YouTube, Spotify, Instagram, Snapchat, Netflix, Sky+, Tinder, Chip and pin, Periscope, One Direction and Oculus didn’t exist. Nobody had Wi-Fi, broadband, flat screen TVs or tablets. The Nokia 1100 was the world’s bestselling phone.

“Today, over 50% of video viewed by 16-24 year olds is not live TV and over 90% of 16-24s own a smartphone and have at least one social media account. In 2003 it was 0%. To offer young people what they want we had to adapt.”

The key changes announced by the BBC included:

  • BBC Three will not be a scheduled 7pm-4am linear broadcast TV channel, but would be everywhere else, giving viewers the freedom to choose what to watch when you want
  • BBC Three will be available on BBC iPlayer on connected TV’s and via set-top boxes and consoles like the PS4 so viewers can watch on a big TV with friends, if they want. It will be on mobiles and tablets so viewers can watch anywhere, anytime
  • The new channel will spend 80% of its budget on long form TV such as drama like the forthcoming Thirteen and the range of comedy and entertainment like Josh and People Just DO Nothing and documentaries like BAFTA winning Life and Death Row, but it would now spend 20% on ‘new form’ content
  • The new form content will consist of new content strands centred on topics that matter to young people, like relationships, online life, crime and health
  • The channel can now offer opportunities to a wider range of talent because itwill have  space to experiment with a wider range of content ideas in different formats and lengths
  • BBC Three will be launching a recruitment campaign to source a group of young people to work with the channel to test our ideas and create content in collaborative ways

Read Damian Kavanagh’s full statement about BBC Three here.

The BBC Trust also approved plans to extend CBBC to 9pm and to improve its iPlayer serve, although it rejected a proposal for a BBC One+1 channel.


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