The BBC Recognises It Is At Risk

Miles Weaver
Miles Weaver Marketing Director

Recently, the BBC’s Public Accounts Committee warned in a report that the corporation faces “significant risk” from the continuing evolution in the way viewers consume content. The report says that the BBC faces increasing challenges from commercial competitors including Netflix, Amazon and independent television channels on a global level, and suggests the Beeb’s commercial work needs to become more competitive in order to maintain its commercial viability.

This is interesting, given that Sky CEO Stephen van Rooyen earlier this month downplayed the threat of OTT services to the pay-TV market – which is a curious thing to say given the massive amounts of research undertaken in the past couple of years that show pay-TV revenues decreasing in direct correlation with the rise of On Demand viewing. One feels here though, that the warnings for the world’s largest and oldest public broadcaster are correct, and more pressing than many choose to recognise.

In just the last few weeks on this blog, we’ve looked at how user behaviours are dramatically altering the traditional content landscape in many sectors of the market, and the very public rise of super-aggregators like Netflix and Amazon only encourage and accelerate that behavioural shift. At the same time, what the report cites as independent television channels, which we can view as also covering the direct to consumer space, add another layer of competition into the mix, as users are increasingly supplementing their viewing of large aggregator services with niche D2C subscriptions as well.

The BBC has made no secret that it recognises that iPlayer is its long term future, but to be successful in that future the platform will need necessitate different types of content than it is currently focussed on. Digital first, binge worthy shows that deliver deep levels of immersive fan engagement as well as short, snackable series that are ideal for mobile viewing are just two of the content types that are becoming increasingly dominant among viewers (both formats the Beeb has dipped its toe in the water with, but is going to need to do a lot more of) and it will be a challenge for a broadcaster as large and old as the BBC to remain a competitive global content creator in this new age. Thankfully, the Corporation is aware of the challenge that lies before it. It will be interesting to see how it is answered.

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Miles Weaver

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Miles Weaver Marketing Director
April 30, 2019

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