BBC Three: First details of ‘online only’ channel released by BBC

According to proposals, the channel will be available solely on iPlayer from autumn 2015

The BBC has released the first details of its proposed plan to close youth-oriented BBC Three as a traditional broadcast channel and “reinvent” it online.

The BBC announced in March of this year that it intends to make BBC Three an online-only channel from autumn 2015 – though the exact date at which this could happen has yet to be announced. From this point, the service will be available solely on iPlayer.

According to the plan released today (December 10) – which is subject to approval by the BBC Trust – the new, online-only BBC Three will “allow the use of new forms and formats [and] different durations” in programming, with content to be based on what the BBC calls “two key editorial pillars”: Make Me Laugh and Make Me Think.

As part of the plan, the BBC will launch a new catch-up channel called BBC One +1 and extend children’s programming on CBBC by two hours a night. The plan will save an estimated £50million annually, with the money to be re-invested into BBC Three Online and BBC One.

Danny Kavanagh, who is leading the BBC Three proposal, said that the changes reflect the fact that “for young audiences, their shift from linear TV to online is already happening”.

“Our proposal is to re-invent BBC Three for the digital age and to take risks with ideas, talent and technology,” he explained. “We want to take what’s great about BBC Three and what’s great about digital and merge the two, to give audiences something of the digital world, not just in it. This is not moving a TV channel and putting it online. This is new. We are the first broadcaster in the world to propose something like this.”

The BBC’s Director-General, Tony Hall, said of the proposed plan: “By searching out new ways to engage and entertain young audiences on their terms, the new BBC Three will be a great example of how we can reinvent the public service for the digital world.”

A full public consultation into the proposed plan is to be launched early next year, in which licence fee payers will be able to respond to plans to make BBC Three an online-only channel.

BBC Three was launched in 2003 with a target audience of viewers aged between 16 and 34. The channel’s biggest hits over the last decade include Gavin & Stacey, Little Britain, The Mighty Boosh, Torchwood and Being Human.