BBC3 Cutting Its Own Cord?


BBC3, the national broadcaster’s youth-oriented network, is poised to cut its own terrestrial cord and shift its content to the online arena, if all goes according to plan.

According to the Guardian, Tony Hall, the Director-General of the BBC, is planning to announce that he is going to axe BBC3 as part of his plan to cut £100 million from the BBC’s budget. One idea being bandied about is to potentially move the channel’s programming to online exclusives. Another idea is to just kill the channel and its focus on programs for the male and female 16-34 demographic. Currently, BBC3 broadcasts live from 7:00 PM to 4:00 AM.

BBC3 was responsible for introducing great television to the world like Little BritainBeing Human, the Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood and the award-winning documentary Our War, about young troops in Afghanistan. On the game show front, BBC3 shows reruns of Total Wipeout with Richard Hammond, as well as reruns of Never Mind the Buzzcocks and Would I Lie to You.

Nixing BBC3 and transitioning its content to online-only has some interesting implications for both game shows and the entertainment industry at large. First and foremost, the short-term effects are obvious: slashing £100 million from the BBC budget means productions fall by the wayside or need to cope with peanuts to tell their story. If BBC3 does go online, they’ll still have an outlet—which is important, but not as important as being able to pay all the people that makes television work. Soap operas like All My Children and One Life to Live are thriving on Hulu after getting shitcanned by ABC, so it’s not impossible for the original programming still on BBC3 to transition to online-only.

[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]Theoretically, your typical Briton could watch QI on their 60″ TV at home via Xbox, and on their 10″ iPad screen while taking a dump on the loo.[/quote]Let’s also not forget that saying “online-only” isn’t as prohibitive as it once was—hell, online-only is probably far more appealing, thanks to sites like Amazon and Netflix’s push for high-quality original programming. BBC iPlayer, the platform where the BBC may put BBC3, is available online, on devices like Roku and Xbox, and mobile devices like iPad and iPhone. Theoretically, your typical Briton could watch QI on their 60″ TV at home via Xbox, and on their 10″ iPad screen while taking a dump on the loo. If the BBC plays the online content game correctly ala Netflix (dump a season’s worth of episodes online forever to let your audience binge as they see fit) or even Amazon (a new episode a week, but latecomers to the game get to binge) and ignore their usual limits on access (most specifically, the window of time to view something before it leaves iPlayer), BBC3’s content could thrive.