BBC & Channel 4 seek ‘noise’ & ‘mischief’ for digital teen audiences

I Kissed A Boy

UK broadcasters the BBC and Channel 4 have shared their digital content strategies for teen audiences, with calls for “noisy” and “mischievous” shows.

Speaking at the Children’s Media Conference (CMC) in Sheffield today, Cerys Griffiths, head of content production at BBC Education, which is behind the British pubcaster’s education campaigns and educational support portfolio, including the Bitesize strand, said that her department is looking for content that “draws people in, but makes them want to stay and move onto other things around our platforms”.

She explained: “We’re looking for short-form content that will really cut through in this incredibly busy space and stuff that will probably be translated to social [media]. [Teens] like to have things explained to them, but it’s very much subliminal learning, they don’t want to be talked down to, they don’t want it to be a formal lesson.”

James Reevell, executive editor for youth audiences for BBC3 and BBC iPlayer, meanwhile, added that the ethos of youth-skewed BBC3 is “unfiltered, unrestrained entertainment and drama”. He highlighted gay dating show I Kissed A Boy and drag competition format RuPaul’s Drag Race as examples of the kind of “noisy” shows that “represent different voices” that BBC3 is looking to commission.

He also noted the importance of comedy to the channel, commenting: “when comedy is strong, BBC3 is strong. It serves a dual purpose for us; it’s really great for our teen audiences, but also brilliant for us getting people hooked into iPlayer and really using our back catalogue,” noted Reevell who highlighted popular returnings BBC3 comedies such as Bad Education and Man Like Mobeen.

Representing Channel 4 on the CMC panel was Hanzla MacDonald, a development exec in the comcaster’s digital commissioning team, which oversees content for the digital-first Channel 4.0 brand.

He shared that content launching across YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat must be “optimized to the viewing habits of those platforms”, while his team is looking for both scripted and unscripted titles, though “most of our output [is] unscripted five-to-10-part series.”

MacDonald added that “for Channel 4.0, we’re looking for entertainment formats, which are hilarious and mischievous and often authored by the UK’s biggest creators.”

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