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BBC Three to return as broadcast channel

By | Published on Wednesday 3 March 2021

BBC Three

The BBC has announced that BBC Three will become a conventional broadcast channel again next year, available on the Sky, Virgin and Freeview networks in the UK. It was made online-only in 2016 in an effort to cut costs, but has since become “a real hit machine”, says the broadcaster.

“BBC Three is a BBC success story, backing creativity, new talent and brave ideas [resulting] in hit after hit, from ‘Fleabag’ and ‘Man Like Mobeen’, ‘Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK’ and Jesy Nelson’s ‘Odd One Out’, to ‘Normal People’ and ‘This Country'”, says Chief Content Officer Charlotte Moore.

“The BBC needs to back success and make sure its programmes reach as many young people as possible wherever they live in the UK”, she goes on. “So regardless of the debates about the past, we want to give BBC Three its own broadcast channel again. It has exciting, groundbreaking content that deserves the widest possible audience and using BBC iPlayer alongside a broadcast channel will deliver the most value”.

Aimed at young adults, BBC Three in many ways seemed like a sensible choice if the Corporation had to make any of its channels online only. However, the broadcaster says that there still remains a linear TV audience for its output. The channel’s core audience will be 16-34. The younger end of this demographic does still watch conventional TV, reckons the BBC, although not so much the BBC’s services at the moment.

From January 2022, it is proposed that BBC Three share broadcasting space with the CBBC children’s channel. This will mean that CBBC’s broadcast hours will be cut, making way for BBC Three at 7pm. This, however, says the Beeb, will allow BBC Three to air some pre-watershed shows aimed at a thirteen plus audience.