Online only channel

BBC Three goes online amid talk of more change

BBC ThreeBBC Three has gone online only from today amid speculation that further change is afoot.

The channel, which launched Little Britain, Don’t Tell the Bride and Gavin & Stacey, will now be available via the channel’s website and the BBC iPlayer.

The move online was approved by the BBC Trust in November. Apart from saving £30 million a year, it is a response to changing viewing habits, particularly among the young who now spend more time on mobile devices than watching television.

The target online audience is 16-24 year olds, of whom 25% watch the channel, and there has been talk of a merger with Radio One to form some sort of “youth channel”, though the BBC has said nothing about this.

Netflix is more popular than BBC1 or ITV1 among the young. The BBC says 925,000 only watch BBC Three.

The BBC Trust said there was “clear public value in moving BBC Three online, as independent evidence shows younger audiences are watching more online and watching less linear TV”.

Director general Tony Hall said: “Younger audiences increasingly are moving online, on-demand, looking at content on screens, wherever they happen to be, at whatever time of day they want to consume content.

“The challenge now is for us to take BBC Three and the brilliance of BBC Three into that world.”

The move has not been universally popular.  A Save BBC Three campaign was supported by more than 270,000 who signed a petition to keep the channel broadcasting on television.

On its last night on television, it broadcast episodes of some of its most popular programmes, including The Mighty Boosh, Family Guy, American Dad and Bad Education.

The final programme was a repeat of the first ever episode of Gavin & Stacey, the sitcom created and written by Ruth Jones and James Corden.

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