Television Business International

BBC’s Webb: ‘fewer but bigger kids commissions’

Kids-logo-460_2Alice WebbThe head of UK pubcaster the BBC’s kids department has said her division’s commissioning focus has switched to ordering fewer, but “bigger and better” shows.

Alice Webb, controller of BBC Children’s, announced the strategy in the opening keynote session at the Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield last night.

“With so much competition out there, we need to make sure our content stands out from the crowd. We will continue to commission exceptional television series, but we are going to make fewer of them. We think they will be bigger and better for that.”

Yesterday, BBC Children’s was handed an extra £34 million (US$44 million) by its parent, a move that will increase its current budget of £110 million to £124.4 million by 2019/20.

The move is part of a plan to ensure the BBC is properly combatting the threat of Amazon and Netflix, which are increasingly the first stop for children of various ages.

BBC strategy chief James Purnell said the £124 million figure would be the “base level” going forwards.

Webb also used her keynote conversation with Purnell to inform delegates the BBC would increase its output for teenagers aged 13 to 16.

Webb sees this demographic as among the most under threat of ditching the BBC and its channels group altogether in favour of on-demand and digital video services.

Last week, the BBC announced new programming for its CBBC and CBeebies networks. These remain by far the most popular linear TV channels for kids in the UK, with its PSB rivals investing far less, and Sky focusing on imported pay TV nets and original programming for its VOD service.