BBC DG: “iPlayer must fit around viewers’ lives”

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Tony Hall, the BBC Director General, is set to tell an audience at the Media And Telecoms conference in London that the corporation must plan for a future where a large portion of its audience never view its traditional TV channels.

Hall will also say that while iPlayer was pioneering when it debuted a decade ago, excessive regulation and competition from US streaming services such as Netflix and Prime Video meant it had since lost its advantage.

“While our audiences love the quality and brilliance of our content, they now want and expect more than just catch up,” he will say, adding there must be “a new contract” between the BBC and the public, with a service “that is more personal”.

The BBC recently announced plans for a streaming service, BritBox, with ITV, to counter competition from the likes of Netflix. But Hall will say that “iPlayer lies at the heart of the BBC’s strategy to create the TV of tomorrow”, with audiences wanting and expecting “more than just catch-up”.

With audiences moving away from linear television to streaming services, he will add: “It might be five years away, it might be 10, but soon our digital services will be the only ones some of our audiences use … Not long ago, traditional broadcasters and media organisations could each do our thing and expect audiences to make time to come to us. Now we must fit around their lives. Deliver value directly to them. Or we all risk irrelevance.”


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