The closure of BBC3 is one of the biggest nods towards the acceptance that viewing will take place across internet-enabled devices. There is no other way to look at this now and we have to accept that the traditional way of broadcasting and the behaviour of the TV viewer is changing dramatically (as has been predicted by some for some time, manipulated by others).
It is generally accepted that younger viewers no longer see the TV schedule as part of their lives. On-demand services such as BBC i-Player and Netflix and platforms such as YouTube mean that people are viewing programmes when they want rather than be ruled by the broadcasters. Internet-enabled TVs and Apple TV are also enabling this shift. In fact, Channel 4 has been experimenting with its service 4OD by previewing shows on its platform before they go on TV.
This shift has been powered by technology companies and it means that BBC3 no longer needs to be a TV Channel. Its audience are already one of the biggest consumers of online video so the BBC is only reflecting what its viewers are doing…moving online.
What viewers and fans of the station want to know is: how will it affect the funding and commissioning of their shows? No doubt this is a money saving exercise too but the BBC will demand that the programming it commissions for on-demand TV will be as good as Netflix and Amazon which recently invested in bringing ex-BBC programme Ripper Street to its platforms. So though fewer shows will be made, they will be the good ones. Thankfully, the shit fillers won’t be made.
We spent 2 days last week at YouTube’s London head office as part of a course on how they are encouraging content ‘creators’ to create, behave, encourage and socialise on their own YouTube channels. There were major broadcasters; sports clubs and associations; music labels and ThePeloton all looking to tap into the vast knowledge bank that YouTube has on how its viewers act and behave. We will update you soon on this but suffice to say the game has changed. And alarmingly, for some, it will change very quickly.
So the closure of BBC3 is the start but expect to see the pace of this change quicken. Why are broadcasters making programming for 18 hours per day when they can invest more into less and create programmes people want to watch in their own time and at their own pace? Why show a great drama at 9.00pm every Thursday, when people don’t really live or organise their time like that any more?
Predictions – Channel 4 and ITV will announce similar internet-only programming and drop TV channels. Amazon, Apple and Netflix will commission more as they expand their internet broadcasting businesses. YouTube will become grown up and will be a destination for both short and long form programming for all ages and cultures.
You Have Been Watching.