OKAY boys and girls (is what Gay used to say on the Toy Show)
So, some of you may know that I spent some time as a TV buyer, but what you may not know is that TV is one of my all-time F A V E things in the whole wide world. I was glued to the box growing up, much to my poor mother’s dismay. I was a chunky child* and this may or may not have been a contributing factor.
*I was a walking chicken nugget
Anyway, there’s been a lot of movement in the TV biz in Ireland over the last while. Virgin buying out basically everyone that’s not a semi-state body, Maximum Media making moves to become a broadcaster, the rise and rise of VOD… But I think we can all agree that a lot of great broadcasting comes out of the UK. And although at times it can be seen as restrictive and stuffy, the BBC does do some amazing work in this area.
In particular, I think BBC Three is to be admired, whose sole remit was to provide innovative content to a 15-34 demo. Unlike its commercial rivals, 90% of BBC Three’s output was home-grown. 70% was original, covering all genres, including animation, comedy, current affairs, and drama. In February this year, the powers that be decided to take BBC Three off television and have it live solely online. There was a little bit of uproar at the time; they didn’t make that decision because they were trying to be innovative – the station’s budget had been slashed by half, and by moving the station to online-only, the BBC would save £30m in TV transmission costs. But it’s actually worked out quite well: BBC Three’s content has become some of the most requested on the BBC iPlayer. They’ve even made the content available for a year, whereas the rest is only listed for 30 days. But even at that, the majority of requests are made within the first few weeks of content going live.
BBC Three is now free to try its hand at so much more than it could have if it was still stuck in the linear TV format and the restrictive budgets that go along with that; such as video, written editorial and even podcasts. Now, there’s still some way to go – the content on the iPlayer can be hard to find, and the interface on the site isn’t great (but they’re working on it); plus people are still viewing players in general as catch-up services (as opposed to Netflix where they go to seek out new content). So work needs to be done to change that mind-set.
But all that aside, they have one huge advantage – a deep understanding of their audience; which as we all know, is one that’s incredibly hard to reach and even harder to engage with in any sort of meaningful way. But BBC Three are poised in prime position (ahhh alliteration) to reap the benefits of this, as it looks to its own future and the future of an ever-evolving broadcasting landscape.
While advertising on the BBC will likely never, ever happen (and to be honest, I think it should stay like that), it’s always fascinating to see what big players in the media and communications industry are doing, how they are diversifying, and how they future-proof their business.
On a loftier note, it’s also a reminder that sometimes out of really grim situations (like having to cut costs), comes true innovation and even success (even if that particular success is a different kind than before).
Peace and love to one and all on this (almost) Christmas afternoon