BBC Three returns

BBC Three returns as a broadcast channel in January 2022

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After it stopped being broadcast in 2016, BBC Three returns to linear viewing in January 2022

In an announcement all about success and the future (ie ignoring why BBC Three left our screens), the BBC has outlined its new vision for the channel. First they talk about some recent major successes:

some of our biggest performing shows, from Killing Eve to Fleabag and Normal People. We believe in backing success and, having committed to double the investment on BBC Three commissions over the next two years, we want to showcase that content to a wider audience.

It’s clear the BBC’s research has thrown up a surprise:

our research identified a significant group of younger viewers who maintain a strong linear TV habit but are currently light users of the BBC. We want to change that.

In other words younger viewers aren’t all about YouTube and streaming, and reality is there’s a market of viewers with mixed habits. It’s clear to us the BBC wants to maintain its brand with younger viewers who it will then keep loyal as they get older. After all, these are also the people who pay the licence fee (however long that persists — see our item on changes at the BBC.)

Charlotte Moore, Chief Content Officer makes extensive comment in the BBC’s announcement, and they recognise the need to be diverse, including geographically:

The returning BBC Three will deliver greater public value by further increasing the diversity and creativity of our output and build on the strengths of BBC Three’s online performance. That’s why we will aim for at least two-thirds of the expanded BBC Three’s programme spend to be outside of London and across the UK.

She also gives a view on the date BBC Three returns (subject to Ofcom approval):

We propose to launch in January 2022 and adapt CBBC’s operating hours to make the most value out of the increased content we commission . Ofcom has charged the BBC with doing more to reach young people. The channel will be targeted at audiences aged 16-34. The new channel will broadcast from 7pm to 4am each day, the same as the hours of the channel when it closed in 2016. As a result CBBC’s broadcast hours will revert to closing at 7pm – as was the case before 2016. As a result, we intend to expand the remit of BBC Three with a pre-watershed content offer suitable for 13+. Importantly, we will not take any further traditional TV channel capacity for our services, but reallocate distribution capacity from our existing services within the current space.

There’s more in the full announcement and we have to agree this is good new for BBC viewers, as long as nothing is lost from the current iPlayer only ethos. We’ve been impressed by both headline content the BBC lists and other titles such as the range of short comedies available. We’ll bring you more when we have it.