Image: Martin Hoscik / SEENIT
Image: Martin Hoscik / SEENIT
BBC Three’s transformation into an online channel will help foster and nurture the next generation of British talent according to boss Damian Kavanagh.

The channel will cease broadcasting on satellite, cable and Freeview on Tuesday 16th February after which its content will be available through the BBC website and via iPlayer on connected TVs and set top boxes.

Programmes will also be available YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Vine and Tumblr with all original commissions repeated on BBC One or BBC Two.

Plans to move BBC Three online were drawn up in response to falling budgets and were fiercely opposed by many in the channel’s key 16-34 year old audience who unsuccessfully petitioned the BBC Trust to block the proposal.

With the final decision taken and the switch imminent, the corporation is keen to move on and stress the creative opportunities the new online BBC Three offers.

Speaking to an invited audience of programme makers and journalists on Monday evening, Kavanagh said breaking away from a linear schedule would allow the channel to experiment with different lengths and forms of content, including ideas devised by TV newcomers.

Kavanagh told his audience that new and emerging programme makers would be partnered with big name talent to help bring their ideas to the widest possible audience.

One such project has seen BBC Drama and Green Door Pictures, the production company founded by Idris Elba, join forces to produce a series of short films from new writers, each of which features new on-screen talent working alongside established stars. 

While platforms such as YouTube already provide outlets for emerging content makers, Kavanagh said the BBC Three branding would serve as “a badge of quality and shorthand for content that will stimulate emotions and provoke reactions.”

He added: “Because we’re freed from the schedule we can use whatever format and platform is most appropriate.

“The majority of what we will make is TV, like People Just Do Nothing, but we’ll make short form video, blogs and picture led stories as well. We’ll be on YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook and our new site The Daily Drop.”

Speaking to SEENIT, Kavanagh promised that the commitment to airing content on BBC One and Two wouldn’t compromise artistic opportunities, saying: “I’m commissioning first and foremost, front and centre, for BBC Three.”

He also said the channel would “experiment” with different release models, suggesting that entire seasons of some shows could be made available online at the same time, while for other programmes BBC One or Two would screen an episode the same week it went online while but that in some cases the linear transmission would “come down the line”.

He stressed that “for different types of content there’ll be different answers,” and said the broadcaster would be looking to learn what worked best for each programme and genre.

Asked about transparency around audience figures, Kavanagh said he and colleagues were in discussion about how viewing figures would be compiled and released.

“We need time to let BBC Three grow, everybody will be able to see how the shows are doing on BBC One and Two because that’s regulated by BARB, iPlayer releases statistics, it’s all there but in terms of putting together the whole picture? We’ve got to work out what’s best and how we’re telling people how we’re doing.”