BBC Three has finally been bumped off of TV schedules – only to be reincarnated in a new online-only form.
As of today, those tuning in to where BBC Three used to exist will find nothing; if you want to watch the latest and greatest that BBC Three has to offer, you’ll need to point your browsers here to the BBC’s new Daily Drop page, a Tumblr-esque feed that populates with fresh content every day.
On the new BBC Three homepage, there’s currently a handful of tags for things like comedy shows, documentaries and music as well as individual programmes like Cuckoo, Life and Death Row and the BBC’s online series One Click Away.
If the site looks pretty embryonic – it does say ‘BETA’ next to the new BBC Three icon – there’s a reason for that.
What’s coming up on BBC Three?
Damian Kavanagh, digital controller for BBC Three, assures us that this is ‘just the start’ of the journey to reinvent BBC Three and we can expect a ton of new content throughout 2016.
Available to watch now is episode one of the new series of Cuckoo, The Man Who Witnessed 219 Executions and The Dark Side Of Gaming which can be accessed through The Daily Drop and BBC Three’s YouTube channel.
Coming up later in autumn is Doctor Who spin-off Class, written by Patrick Ness, author of A Monster Calls and the Chaos Walking series.
University-based drama Clique, penned by Skins writer Jess Brittain, is also heading to BBC Three later this year alongside Murdered By My Father, a story about ‘honour’ killings in modern Britain that’s arriving on BBC Three in March.
As well as this, a number of short films from Idris Elba’s Green Door Pictures, have been given the green light as has Stupid Man, Smart Phone which sees Russell Kane and a celebrity co-star dropped off somewhere in the world with only their wits and a mobile phone to help them.
What if I can’t watch BBC Three because my Internet service is crap?
The good news is that the BBC says ‘all long-form programmes’ that begin life on BBC Three will eventually end up on BBC One or BBC Two ‘at a later date’.
The bad news is that as this will happen on a show-by-show basis, there’s no telling when BBC Three content will make it on to the airwaves. It could be a matter of days, as is the case with Cuckoo, or it could be longer. Also, as this only applies to long-form content, shorter shows and one-offs – like those Green Door Pictures shorts – might never get the airing that they otherwise would have.
That said, in recent years, the BBC has begun experimenting with more online-only pilots and news, so it’s arguable that short form content might never had made it to the airwaves in the first place.
That’s unlikely to please those who can’t get a service that’s decent enough to handle that minimum 2Mbps required for BBC iPlayer and most streaming services to work reliably.
Despite milions being spent on BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) – a good chunk of which was licence fee money, ironically – the government has still failed to ensure that every home can access a basic 2Mbps service.
And for people living off grid? Ofcom’s Communications Market Report from last year showed that while 80 per cent of UK folks are online, the majority of offline homes don’t intend to get connected anytime soon. Have fun with that, offline people! If you can even read this.
Why has the BBC taken BBC Three off the air?
This transition has been a long time coming. In many ways, choosing to moving an entire channel online is simply a sign of the way things are going these days. While linear TV continues to rule the roost in terms of number of eyeballs wowed, people are increasingly turning to their phones, tablets and laptops in order to consume content outside the allocated broadcasting times.
At the same time, if this was always the BBC intention for its third channel, then it’s also fair to say it’s been forced to accelerate those plans.
A five year real terms pay cut by the previous administration combined with eventually shouldering the cost of free licences for over 75s, courtesy of the current administration, means the BBC needs to save money.