BBC Three Axed: The Beginning of the End for TV as We Know It?

The BBC has announced that BBC Three's content will be moved online.


The BBC has announced that BBC Three's content will be moved online.
The BBC has announced that BBC Three’s content will be moved online.

By Ellie Sutcliffe – Reporter

The road has been rather winding for BBC Three. As far back as 18 months ago there were rumours that the channel would be axed, and this week the BBC Trust finally announced that the channel will end in its current format.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. It will be re-launched as an online streaming service, and the Beeb are planning on shaking things up for their mainstream channels by moving some of the more popular BBC Three shows to BBC One and Two.

The broadcaster announced their decision on 30th June 2015, just a couple of days before reports detailing their plans to cut around a thousand jobs. The blame was laid on the decline of TV Licence subscriptions, with many people choosing to watch shows on iPlayer rather than paying their TV Licence.

Could this also be one of the major factors in the BBC Three cut? It’s no secret that people are changing their viewing habits. Streaming services such as Netflix are becoming more and more popular and the BBC seems to recognise their need to fight hard to remain relevant amidst these changes.

However, their audience seems divided and for those who don’t live in an area with adequate broadband speeds or 4G coverage, the move online could mean they will be unable to view certain programmes altogether. This potentially means cutting out a sizable chunk of their 11.2m weekly viewers and the loss of the 18-34 demographic catered to by BBC Three.

Perhaps this is not the case though. In their announcement, the BBC Trust have also stated that they intend to move shows over to BBC One and BBC Two and inject up to 80% of their new £30m budget on documentaries and the more popular shows such as Bad Education.

During its life, BBC Three has acted as a hub of new programming and has seen some very successful and cult shows emerge. Little Britain, Gavin and Stacey and The Mighty Boosh – all extremely popular comedies – started their lives here.

In recent years, the channel has been recognised as the home of new comedy, particularly from the likes of Russell Howard and it’s likely that the BBC will aim to maintain this.

But, what will become of the other areas of programming covered by the channel? Cult shows such as Torchwood and Being Human had a home here during their series run. There’s been no mention of the future of these more adult-orientated supernatural and sci-fi shows.

I highly doubt that we will see them on the terrestrial television channels in the near-future. The Beeb have been notoriously flaky when catering to this particular bracket of viewership, preferring family prime time shows like Doctor Who and more recently, Atlantis, to take the main stage.

With this massive change, more questions are raised than can be answered and only time will tell as to whether this move will prove fruitful or detrimental to the life of the BBC.

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