Advanced Television

BBC Three to make linear return?

May 20, 2020

By Colin Mann

The BBC has revealed that it is considering bringing back BBC Three as a scheduled linear channel, four years after it became online only.

In announcing its Annual Plan, which sets out its intentions and future priorities for the year, the BBC said: “We will step up our commitment to better serve young audiences who currently get less value from the BBC. BBC Three has been a hit machine. Such is its performance, we will consider the merit of restoring it as a linear channel. While young people would continue to predominately watch BBC Three content online, we believe that with the depth of content we now have available, there are still more people we could reach through a linear channel.”

In announcing the Corporation’s plans for the move in 2014, BBC director general Tony Hall said he believed it was the right thing to do. “Young audiences – the BBC Three audience – are the most mobile and ready to move to an online world. Twenty-five per cent of viewing by 16-24 year olds is to catch-up or other screens and over the next few years we expect that to reach 40 per cent,” he noted.

“While we cannot know our full financial picture, we also hope to double the amount we spend on BBC Three commissions over the next two years. This money would have to be found from elsewhere in BBC content budgets.”

Normal People, an adaptation of the Sally Rooney novel, has given BBC Three its biggest ever week on iPlayer, with 21.8 million requests for the channel’s programmes.

In February 2109, the BBC revealed that selected programming from BBC Three was to feature on BBC One as part of a change to its scheduling to create a special slot devoted to showcasing the best of BBC Three programming.

At the time, the BBC said its research showed there was a potential large linear audience for the channel’s programmes, which it said were reaching both young people and the wider audience in “big numbers”.


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