BBC Three chief hails online success

Damian Kavanagh, Controller, BBC Three, has declared that the service’s move to online from a linear channel has been a success, noting that BBC Three has more than doubled its total brand reach and seen phenomenal growth on social platforms, producing original content with true public purpose.

Speaking at a meeting of the Broadcasting Press Guild in London, Kavanagh noted that when the service moved online in February 2016, he said the transition would be a marathon not a sprint as the broadcaster learnt and adapted its behaviour to ensure it reached young audiences wherever they are.

“The growth has been amazing,” he said, paying tribute to what the BBC Three team and all the creative talent who work with it had achieved. “We’ve won over critics and audiences alike; winning numerous awards along the way including the prestigious RTS channel of the year award 2017.  And we have done what we promised – we have backed the very best emerging talent in the UK, creating some household names along the way,” he noted.

According to Kavanagh, BBC Three’s audience share has increased from 3.2 per cent to 8.2 per cent, admitting that a target of 10 per cent was set for some four years down the line. “We’re well on the way to achieving that,” he noted.

He admitted that in the multi-channel, OTT era, there was a challenge for the service to make its content and brand known to its target 18-34 demographic. “I’ve got to yell: ‘Watch me!’,” he remarked. “But I’m not going to go for clickbait [programme] titles.”

In terms of discoverability and accessing the service, he admitted that work was needed on the BBC Three website. “We need to improve user journeys and discoverability. We need to improve tagging  … the website is a good, robust piece of technology. It works; stuff plays and you can’t always take that for granted. We’ve got that bit in place. We’ve got more than one million unique browsers a week coming to the site. That’s predominantly coming for written journalsim and some kind of short-form material. What I want to do is is to convert those people to more content and expose the depth and breadth of what we do on BBC Three.”

In terms of extending that reach by connected platforms such as Freeview Play and YouView, Kavanagh revealed that discussions were under way with his colleague Ian Davies, Head of Product at the BBC for Interactive TV, BBC Three and its programmes’ websites, about how BBC Three could use the Connected Red Button. Such an instance would be that when BBC Three-originated programmes were playing on BBC One, there would be a Connected Red Button trigger on screen. “If you connect via the Red Button, you’d go straight to the BBC Three page on iPlayer. We’re exploring all of those ways to increase discoverability.”

In conclusion, Kavanagh said the future for BBC Three was looking “very bright” and that he was convinced that by continuing to innovate and take risks with its storytelling and allowing “brilliant” talent to do their most creative work, BBC Three would continue to grow and create content its young audience love.

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