Romain Deville

creative cost-cutting

A bit more than a year ago, BBC Three ended its TV-life and went on for new adventures exclusively on the web. While the idea seems to have spawned from a cost-saving exercise, the project ended up being an interesting experiment to help the brand re-centre on its core audience, the 16-34-year-olds.


I see three main reasons behind this move:

  • Make some efficient cuts in the budget, following the government freeze of television license fee costs.
  • Re-adapt the channel to its core audience, which already “lives” online and deserts linear TV more and more.
  • An experiment that could potentially be applied to other channels if it’s successful.

let’s go online!

While moving the brand online kind of killed the concept of “TV channel”, it did bring a lot of non-negligible advantages:

  • It’s cheaper than operating DVB broadcasting.
  • There is less content to create as there is no need for a full schedule, people watch what they want, when they want.
  • The freedom to create new formats and experiment with the content.
  • The iPlayer is a beautiful and usable product that proved itself on along the years, it’s also available on almost every platform you can think of.
  • The youth is already there and it’s always looking for something new to watch.

what about the content?

If you look at the BBC Three page on iPlayer, you’ll see very quickly that the BBC wanted to cater to a large spectrum within Three’s target audience:

  • Spin-offs of successful BBC brands:

  • Actual documentaries, to save the youth from PewDiePie and help them think about real life:

  • Unclassifiable content, to test new concepts and keep things quirky:

While all of it is at least online-first and potentially online-only, BBC Three could actually become a testing platform for new content before it makes its way on the schedule of the bigger channels.

the right move?

I think so, the BBC managed to save money while keeping the brand alive.
The brand might have lost some big licences such as Family Guy but it also got to start afresh and prove that the broadcast is going through a revolution.

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