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60% of Brits want BBC licence fee scrapped

TubeMogul, an enterprise software company for digital branding, today revealed that almost 60 per cent of Brits believe that the BBC should be privatised and the licence fee should be scrapped. And over 60 per cent of respondents believe that the best way of funding the BBC in the future is via private advertising.

The survey was conducted with 1,457 respondents from across the UK in an online format using TubeMogul’s BrandSights online video survey tool between July 6th and July 13th. Survey users were selected at random via a random poll that appeared on their video screens while they were watching online video on various websites.

As the BBC struggles to fill the funding gap caused by demands to pay the licence fees for over 75s and the drop in viewership amongst younger audiences as they turn to online video and mobile over traditional television viewing, new revenue generation methods need to be examined to guarantee the future of the nation’s television network. Thinkbox’s recent Truth About Youth study revealed that while TV viewing accounts for 81 per cent of all video consumption, it drops to 65 per cent among 16-24 year olds.

This drop in consumption is reflected in the response to an additional question in the survey. When asked “What is the best way the BBC should be funded in the future,” the breakdown was as follows:
  • Removal of the licence fee, with the BBC becoming a corporation funded primarily by advertising: 61.67 per cent
  • Continued payment of the licence fee for all TV viewers, with no fee payment for online viewers: 23.82 per cent
  • Payment of a licence fee PLUS payment of a fee for all users of online services: 14.51 per cent
The third question in the survey discussed attitudes to advertising on the BBC, with over 60 per centof respondents happy to welcome advertising on certain conditions. When asked ‘Would you accept advertising on the BBC’, answers were as follows:
  • Yes, if it meant I didn’t have to pay my licence fee anymore: 30.5 per cent
  • Yes, I don’t believe the BBC should have any advantage over private broadcasters: 18.8 per cent
  • Yes, if it meant that it could turn a profit with funds going back into the public coffers: 13.94 per cent
TOTAL YES: 63.24 per cent
  • No, I pay my licence fee so I don’t have to watch ads: 21.05 per cent
  • No, advertising would make the BBC less independent and less likely to investigate companies/advertisers that pay them:  15.71 per cent
TOTAL NO: 36.76 per cent

Nick Reid, UK MD of TubeMogul says: “This poll is significant for the future of the BBC. Viewership is dropping, and viewers simply don’t want to pay a fee that they feel isn’t delivering value-for-money. Focus in the media has been largely on the importance of the BBC’s independence. Yet, the British public don’t really care about this issue and increasingly feel that it’s time to cut Auntie Beeb’s purse strings off.”

In ZenithOptimedia’s March 2015 Advertising Expenditure report, television advertising expenditure for 2015 is estimated to reach almost £4 Billion. With the BBC securing almost 50 per cent of all viewership, this means that it has the potential to secure half that amount in potential advertising revenue.

Adds Reid: “It’s impossible to estimate an exact figure regarding what the BBC could make if they opened up their TV stations to advertising, but going by current ratings and viewing trends, guessing that they would take half of spend is a conservative possibility. And this is based on the fact that advertising spend wouldn’t increase. The reality is that it would because the amount of premium inventory would almost double causing advertisers to increase spend and entice new advertisers to TV.

This September marks the 60th anniversary of television advertising in the UK. The BBC’s unique setup of regional stations and access to data would position it perfectly to introduce programmatic TV advertising from the start. This would mean better targeting for advertisers, increased revenue and streamlined booking methods.

Says Reid: “Introducing programmatic TV advertising from the start would place the BBC head and shoulders above the competition. Not only would they control half the inventory available on terrestrial television, they would be able to better target ads to key markets (which would entice advertisers) and ensure that viewers aren’t being bombarded with advertising that isn’t relevant to their lifestyle. Privatising the BBC could be the key in taking television and the advertising industry to the next level in terms of relevance and engagement. “


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