BBC3 unveils launch date, online programming

In anticipation of the channel's online launch on February 16, the British pubcaster has announced a slate of long and short-form programs. (Pictured: BBC3's Damian Kavanagh)
January 26, 2016

After more than six months of planning, UK pubcaster BBC3 will finally switch from a linear broadcast channel to a digital video platform.

The official “switch-over” will occur on February 16.

At an event in London, BBC3 unveiled the two platforms that its online version will consist of: The Best Of, which will focus on long-form programming, including new and pre-existing original BBC content; and The Daily Drop, which will stream short-form videos, image galleries, blog posts and trending stories.

The BBC has also announced a number of content deals and partnerships to bring new original content to BBC3 online, including Love Triangle, a series of eight short films (eight minutes each) from the true crime doc series Life and Death Row (pictured). Each film will follow a standalone story and be published alongside supporting documents, including witness statements, police recordings and crime scene photographs. The premiere episode will be available on February 16, the day of BBC3′s official switch-over.

Other new series include:

  • Short-form series Life Hacks with Ben Hart, where he presents unsuspecting members of the public with seemingly magical “hacks” to make their lives easier.
  • Crime documentary Unsolved: The Boy Who Disappeared. Alys Harte and Bronagh Munro investigate the real-life disappearance of a teenager 20 years ago. The story will be told in a variety of formats, including video and other digital formats such as blog posts and articles.
  • Dan Murdoch’s documentary Black Power, a follow-up to his previous work KKK: The Fight For White Supremacy. In the documentary, Murdoch travels to the U.S. to meet with former and current Ku Klux Klan and Black Power leaders.
  • A new unnamed series of documentaries by Stacey Dooley on the attitudes toward sex and prostitution in different cultures, including Turkey, Brazil and Russia.
  • An unnamed short film about the New Year’s Eve attacks in Cologne.

BBC3 launched in 2003 in an attempt to appeal to viewers ages 16 to 34. That launch was prior to the advent of VOD services such as YouTube, Netflix, Vimeo and other sources of digital entertainment. Now, according to the BBC’s own statistics, more than 50% of videos watched by 16- to 24-year-olds are not viewed on live television, and more than 90% of individuals in that demographic now own a smartphone and have at least one social media account.

Faced with increasing competition from digital entertainment, the BBC has decided to join their ranks — a move the pubcaster estimates will save it U.S.$45 million (£30 million) per year.

The savings come partly from the smaller budget — the BBC has stated that it will spend 80% of its former budget on programming for its digital platform.

But Damian Kavanagh, controller of BBC3, said there are advantages beyond the money saved, and that digital entertainment allows for more versatility and diversity in content. “(The programs are) freed from the constraints of linear TV, and because we’re freed from the schedule we can use whatever format and platform is most appropriate,” Kavanagh said in a statement. “The majority of what we will make is TV… but we’ll make short-form video, blogs and picture-led stories as well.”

He said BBC3′s presence will also expand to YouTube, Facebook and Snapchat.

The emphasis on short-form content with the Daily Drop came from understanding the consumption habits of millennials, focusing on mobile-friendliness, reasonable length and shareability. “(The Daily Drop) is snackable daily updates for when you’re on the bus.”

(From Stream Daily)

About The Author
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.