BBC tackles kids SVOD threat with £34m boost

Tony HallBBC Children’s will receive its largest cash boost “in a generation”, with an extra £34 million (US$44 million) earmarked above current budget levels.

Tony Hall, director general UK pubcaster the BBC, has made it a priority to combat the growing influence of US-based subscription VOD services, and today’s announcement ties into that narrative.

The new investment will see the BBC Children’s annual budget rise to £124.4 million by 2019/20, up from £110 million today.

A quarter of all investment will go on online content and initiatives by 2019/20, as part of a bid to reach kids not watching linear TV and to combat Netflix and Amazon.

The BBC’s annual plan will focus on three strands

  • Content that “stands out from the crowd”
  • Content that is delivered “whenever and wherever” the audience wants it
  • Content that is “supported by interactive capabilities that enable [the] audience to create, connect and share”

In effect, this means a focus on “a smaller number of stand-out titles for which we will commission TV series and high-quality brand extensions across all platforms” – namely video, live online programming extensions and clips, pictures, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, quizzes, guides, games and apps.

Popular content will be made available through the BBC iPlayer, while a bigger focus will be placed on content that can be shared and adapted on social media platforms.

“We put children’s front and centre throughout the charter renewal process and today’s announcement reflects our commitment to our youngest audiences,” said Hall.

“We’re making BBC Children’s fit for the future, maintaining our world class channels whilst enhancing our online offer to meet the needs of the next generation.”

Alice Webb, controller of BBC Children’s, said that while the BBC operates the UK’s most popular kids channels (CBeebies and CBBC), “as our audience increasingly move online it’s our job to stay relevant, inspiring and engaging them on whichever platform they choose”.

“Today’s announcement means that whilst we’ll continue to make exceptional, distinctive public service UK children’s content across all of our platforms, we’ll also be able to develop a more personal online service that meets the evolving needs of our audience,” she added.

Webb will discuss the future of BBC Children’s in a keynote speech with BBC director of strategy James Purnell at the Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield, UK, later today.

The news was announced as part of the BBC’s Annual Plan, which revealed plans of a major new BBC season, Civilisations and other strategic content moves.

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