BBC Three figures dropped by nearly 90% after going online-only
BBC Three figures dropped by nearly 90 per cent after going online-only as corporation’s new boss Tim Davie considers bringing the home of hits Fleabag, Normal People and Killing Eve back to TV
- A study found that, in terms of the channel itself, viewing minutes fell by 89%
- BBC Three was taken off air in 2016 amid changing habits and cost pressures
- Resurrecting platform is said to be on director-general’s ‘list of early decisions’
- Report’s author said BBC is right to consider bringing channel back to linear TV
BBC Three figures dropped by nearly 90 per cent after going online-only, research has revealed – as the corporation’s new boss Tim Davie considers bringing the home of hits Fleabag, Normal People and Killing Eve back to TV.
Research service Enders Analysis compared viewing figures for the year before it went digital-only, with the 12 months to November 2019.
In terms of the channel itself – on BBC iPlayer and not taking into account its shows airing on other channels – viewing minutes fell by 89 per cent.
The study comes after the digital platform was taken off air in 2016 amid changing viewing habits and cost pressures for the broadcaster.
The digital platform has spawned a series of hits such as Fleabag, above, which has also been shown on other channels. The study showed BBC Three’s viewing minutes fell by 89 per cent
It also found viewing of BBC Three content, including BBC Three programmes shown on other BBC linear TV channels, is down 72 per cent.
The channel’s controller, Fiona Campbell, previously said that resurrecting BBC Three as a linear channel will be on director-general Mr Davie’s ‘list of early decisions’.
‘The corporation has got quite significant savings to make across the piece, so there’s a bigger picture in which it has to be weighed within,’ she said.
The report states that ‘despite numerous examples of critical acclaim for BBC Three programming over the last couple of years, the evidence suggests that its audience has collapsed since the closure of its linear TV channel in 2016’.
Aimed at 16 to 34-year-olds, BBC Three has broadcasted popular series such as Killing Eve (Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer pictured above), Normal People and Fleabag
Its author, Neil Thurman, honorary senior research fellow in the department of journalism at City, University of London, said most of its viewers still watch the channel the traditional way.
He said the BBC is right to be considering bringing the channel back to linear television if it wants to attract more attention from its target audience.
He said: ‘Not only has the time spent with the channel been hugely reduced, but most (79 per cent) of the online viewing is still via television sets.
Resurrecting BBC Three as a linear channel is said to be on new director-general Tim Davie’s (above) ‘list of early decisions’
‘The size of BBC Three’s weekly and monthly audience, in common with most of its competitor TV channels, was declining before it reinvented itself online.
‘However, its decision to stop broadcasting resulted in sharp drops.’
He added that ‘the size of BBC Three’s 16 to 34-year-old target audience shrank more than the size of its 35-plus audience’.
‘This raises doubts about whether, in the context of youth channels like BBC Three, young audiences are, as the BBC’s ex-director-general Tony Hall suggested, “most ready to move to an online world”‘, he added.
A BBC spokesman said: ‘BBC Three is not a traditional TV channel so it should be no surprise it’s not consumed like one; when we moved online we wanted to grow younger audiences coming to iPlayer and it’s working, with 412 million total requests for BBC Three programmes in the past 12 months, a 57 per cent increase year on year.
‘Time spent with BBC Three content is also growing, up by 37% this year as more young viewers discover shows like Normal People, RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, This Country, Young Offenders and Glow Up.
‘As set out in the annual plan, we are committed to better serve young audiences and will double the amount we spend on BBC Three commissions over the next two years.’
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