Ed TV Festival: BBC talks linear; ITV defends ‘Love Island’ & Amazon on risk-taking

Charlotte Moore

The BBC talked up linear reach, ITV defended Love Island and Amazon spoke about the importance of taking risks, on day three of this year’s Edinburgh TV Festival.

Speaking at the festival yesterday, the BBC CCO, Charlotte Moore, defended the British pubcaster’s decision to return BBC Three as a linear channel in January 2022.

The network behind shows such as Fleabag and Killing Eve became online-only in 2016, but the decision was reversed earlier this year and the BBC has plans to double its programming budget over the next two years as it attempts to secure BBC Three’s youth-skewing audience.

“We know that there is an audience in the UK that is still watching linear television. I want to make sure there is universal access to programmes for those BBC Three audiences,” said Moore. “The young audience is the hardest to capture, with so much choice out there – it’s really important those young audiences know what we have.”

Moore explained: “Linear is in decline and VODs are growing, but SVODs would die to have the impact we have and reach those audiences on a daily basis.”

The BBC also announced that it has joined forces with Netflix on a five-year initiative to develop and fund new dramas featuring disabled creatives both in front of an behind the camera.

The UK pubcaster and the global streamer will “consider projects from UK producers that have been created or co-created by writers who identify as deaf, disabled and/or neurodivergent,” said the two companies in a statement.

“We are looking for ideas which feel ambitious and elevated, and which challenge the limits that the industry might unconsciously put on disability. The intention of the partnership is to firmly place the shows alongside our most talked about and original dramas already being developed.”

The BBC and Netflix will make a webinar and a creative brief available to producers to outline of the process, with the two  companies jointly assessing pitches, though the BBC will act as an entry point for submissions.

Love Island

Long-term proposition

Also speaking at the festival, ITV director of TV Kevin Lygo rejected recent criticisms of ITV2 reality hit Love Island and questions around declining viewing figures, stating that the show would be sticking around for the foreseeable.

“This is a pattern you see when new programs come along and they’re huge phenomenons, On catch-up, it’s the best performing series ever,” said Lygo. “Who would think you could invent a program that runs every night at 9pm for eight weeks and keep viewers, especially young viewers who are hard to find now?

“There’s many years left in it. The challenge thrown down to producers is to make some subtle changes to spice it up a bit and keep it as fresh as you can.”

The show, which recently concluded its fifth season, came under fire due to an aggressive row sparked by one of the contestants, leading to a large number of complaints to Ofcom.

“The thing about complaints these days is every week there’s a new most complained about show,” said Lygo. “You have to take them at face value. What are they complaining about and have they got a point? Did we overstep the mark? It’s very easy to take one episode and think it’s too much, when it’s a longer term thing we should be concerned about.”

Mare Of Easttown

Taking risks

Meanwhile, making her first appearance at the festival, Amazon Studios’ boss Jennifer Salke shared her regret on missing out on Mare Of Easttown, the Kate Winslet-led crime drama which ended up with HBO.

“We tried hard to get Mare of Easttown but we lost it in the negotiation,” revealed Salke. “I did look back on what our process was going through that because I really, really loved the show and I’m such a fan of Kate’s and I would be proud to have it on the service.”

Salke also revealed that Amazon is looking to accelerate its movie output across the world as it looks to create “The kinds of films that are really specific, very artist-driven and very impactful for us.”

The exec also spoke about the importance of taking creative risks, saying: “If you believe in something that you’re doing that feels like a ‘zig’ when everyone’s ‘zagging’, that’s where I lean in.

“I also don’t mind having a bit of a stomach ache about a show. If you’re not sure it’s probably because it hasn’t been done before. We should all be taking creative risks.”

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