Launched back in 2003 to provide content for the younger generations, BBC Three oversaw the creation of many cult classics including, Gavin and Stacey, Don’t Tell The Bride and Fleabag. Unfortunately, the channel was announced to be taken off air in 2016 – with the BBC citing budget cuts being their motive. The decision faced strong opposition from celebrities and the public alike, with many worried we would lose a platform that launched so many successful shows. Alas, despite the protests, the channel closed in early 2016. This marked a rapid decline in younger viewers tuning into the broadcaster.
The BBC has faced growing complaints in recent years – due to a lack of quality content for younger demographics. Coupled with the explosion of SVoD services such as Netflix and Disney +, producing high budget original content. The BBC’s plan to bring in a younger audience? To relaunch BBC Three via linear broadcast, costing a whopping £80m to do.
BBC Three relaunches onto our televisions today. Revamped, revitalised and packed with newly commissioned content – with shows such as RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs. The World, Eating With My Ex and Hungry For It (Stace Dooley’s new cooking show). But, will this be enough to bring the younger generations back into the fold? It’s hard to say, however, in a survey carried out by the Daily Mail they reported that only 1 in 20, 18-30-year-olds watched live programming on the BBC. Despite young people preferring the broadcaster’s online services, the research also found that BBC’s on-demand iPlayer appeals more to an older audience.
The BBC insists that there is a reasonable proportion of younger viewers who watch linear TV, believing this relaunch will encourage many young people to come back into the fold. To ensure the channel is distinctive, Ofcom has stated that 75% of the content broadcast in a year must be new programming, commissioned by the BBC for the UK. However, they aren’t off to a strong start, with only two hours of original content scheduled for the first week of airing. The rest of the schedule consists of repeats of Fleabag, This Country and Rupaul’s Drag Race – all of which can be found on BBC IPlayer.
There is the feeling that everyone wants the relaunch of BBC Three to succeed and reclaim its days of launching unique and fresh comedies and dramas. The question is with the continuation of SVoD platforms growing year on year and the decline of the younger generations watching linear television. Will the BBC be able to compete with the juggernauts that are Disney + and Netflix? Do they understand the younger demographic in the same way that Netflix does?
Only time will tell if the BBC Three launch will go well. Vital to their success will be to draw younger demographics back into watching linear TV. This will not be an impossible feat, but a difficult one nonetheless.
Catch the BBC Three relaunch tonight on Freeview, Sky, Virgin or IPlayer, from 7 pm.