BBC director of content Charlotte Moore has said that the controversial move to put shows on iPlayer for a year is vital to deal with “seismic changes” facing the industry, while also revealing new dramas from writers including Doctor Who‘s Steven Moffat.
Moore, speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival today, defended the broadcaster’s decision to make shows available on iPlayer for 12 months rather than 30 days, a move that has caused consternation among some in the production community who are concerned that it will impact the value of rights.
The veteran BBC exec admitted that “change is really hard” but added that the pubcaster “has to adapt if we want to provide value to younger generations, we can’t do it on the old provision.”
She also said the iPlayer could drive the value of series, adding: “If you have a show that you have given a chance to grow, that will only make it more of a commercially stronger proposition in the secondary and international windows.”
Moore said the VOD service was a key focus for attracting younger viewers but added that she would also be increasing budgets for youth-skewing BBC3, the pubcaster’s online only channel offering.
The BBC also used the Edinburgh event to highlight the impact of VOD on rapidly changing viewing habits, with shows such as Ghosts doubling its audience in the month after it first aired. Fellow drama Mrs Wilson grew by 112% from it’s overnight audience of 4.6 million, to a 28 day four-screen figure of 9 million, while Baptiste grew by 97% over 28 days.
The pubcaster also said Killing Eve‘s first two season had generated a combined total of more than 96 million requests on iPlayer, and Moore said the broadcaster was “increasingly looking to commission programmes that will work across both the linear channels and iPlayer.”
New commissions revealed include dramas from Sherlock scribe Moffat, Sarah Solemani and Gwyneth Hughes, plus new comedy Bumps and a standalone factual piece on extinction, presented by Sir David Attenborough.
Moffatt’s four-parter Inside Man is being produced by Hartswood Films and is about a prisoner on death row in the US who crosses paths with a woman trapped in a cellar under an English vicarage, while Solemani’s thriller Ridley Road tells the story of a young woman’s fight against the rise of fascism in the 1960s.
Vanity Fair‘s Gwyneth Hughes is behind When It Happens To You, which is from the team behind fellow BBC drama Three Girls and explores abortion in Northern Ireland.
Bumps, meanwhile, is about a 63-year-old divorcee who decides have another baby at the same time as her 40-year-old daughter, and A Royal Road to Wembley: Tackling Mental Health follows the Duke of Cambridge as he works with the Football Association to raise awareness of male mental fitness.
On the natural history front, Extinction: The Facts will explore plants and animals facing extinction, with Sir David Attenborough presenting the 60-minute special. The show is part of the BBC’s ongoing Our Planet Matters season, which focuses on environmental and sustainability issues.