BBC Three, more popular than sex, dragons & football
It’s easy to forget that it’s been just six months since we became the first TV channel in the world to switch online.
I’m delighted with our quality of output and our audience are too. What we are making has been enjoyed by millions, achieved widespread critical acclaim, won awards and changed and sometimes saved lives.
This is what we are here to do at BBC Three. We’re here to make programmes like Suicide And Me, Drugs Map Of Britain and Murdered by My Father that highlight issues effecting young people in the UK.
We are here to back and nurture new talent in #HoodDocumentary, Fleabag, Sunny D and Chasing Dad. We are here to make young people think and laugh and reinvent the BBC’s offer for young people; giving them something distinctive, fresh and new.
And it’s working. Ofcom’s latest report on UK media stated BBC Three was rated “significantly higher than all PSBs combined for distinctiveness” which was timely considering it was published in the same week Reggie Yates: The Insider — Texan Jail — was more popular than sex and dragons on BARB’s report — ahead of Love Island and Game of Thrones.
Our most viewed drama to date is Marnie Dicken’s Thirteen with 3m requests for episode 1 (1.1m on BBC Two). This makes it the most requested show on BBC iPlayer in 2016, ahead of England v Wales at Euro 2016 with 2.8m requests.
Our most viewed comedy is Cuckoo with 1.5m requests for episode 1 (1.2m on BBC One) and our most viewed documentary, Sex in Strange Places: Turkey — where Stacey Dooley examines attitudes to sex around the world — has had 1.3m requests to date but is yet to be on linear TV.
When we launched just 6 months ago we made up around 4% of all requests on BBC iPlayer and now hit over 10%. Shows like Black Power, Witless, BodyHack, Jade: Why I Choose Porn, Sex Drugs and Murder, Unsolved, Murder In Succesville and many more have contributed to this increase.
But I’ve said it before and I will say it again. We’re not here to chase numbers and success will not be defined by numbers alone. We’re not here for clickbait. If we wanted numbers — which some people seem to define success by — I’d just raid the NHU archive for funny cat videos or get Justin Bieber to do something with Taylor Swift.
We are here to take risks with new talent and new suppliers and new ideas.
And I’ll say it again; we’re not just traditional TV anymore. The biggest part of new BBC Three is not TV. We are excelling in short form video like #hooddocumentary, our mockumentary written by and starring Kay Ewumi, and Big Field; from Darren Dutton that Lorraine Kelly loves but even Vic and Bob would find pretty surreal.
We are innovating with content creation. Top Tens see some of the UKs newest comedians list their Top Ten on a topic of their choosing.
And our social platforms are out-pacing targets. On YouTube #HoodDocumentary is about to break a million views. We’ve doubled our subscribers since launch, and increased view time threefold.
Last week Things People With Down’s Syndrome Are Tired Of Hearing achieved 109,000 likes, 11m views, 195,000 shares and 6.5k comments on Facebook and was loved by lots of young people. We know this because they told us right there and then when they shared it with their friends. Engagement and sharing is a much stronger indication of success than just numbers.
Things People With Downs Syndrome Are Tired Of Hearing Has Had 11m views on Facebook
This weekend we posted a Premier League/Anchorman mash-up that did even better. So far it’s had over 19m views on Facebook and 290,000 shares — not including 3rd party sites like YNFA that itself had over 2m views — or the 11'000 shares @BBCThree. But it’s not the numbers we value, it’s the engagement. Having people say they enjoyed something that the BBC had made for the first time is what we want.
This BBC Three Anchorman Premier League Mash-Up has amused football fans.
We’re making strides and breaking records — from our films on autism and Downs Syndrome to Zlatan with a trident — all have performed in a way any media company would be over the moon with. Its early days but we are learning and we are implementing our learnings as we grow. This is what we talked about achieving with new forms of content on BBC Three. It’s a marathon not a sprint.
And our success also includes our original journalism and editorial on BBC Three which is growing week by week.
Unsolved: The Boy Who Disappeared — which Digital Spy speculated might be the UK’s Making A Murderer has made Hampshire police look at the case again.
It combined video with editorial for an immersive experience and is the perfect example of how our move online has opened up new possibilities for storytelling. It offers young people new ways to engage with our content and allows them to discover content at their pace. It reached millions on bbc.co.uk, Facebook, YouTube and BBC iPlayer, but again, it’s not the numbers I am looking for, its innovation and having an impact with young people.
BBC Three is now a multi-platform, multi-genre, multi-format offering distributed across BBC One, BBC Two, BBC iPlayer and BBC Three online and numerous other platforms like Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter. Our content is also available on third party sites who can choose to embed much of our content If they wish.
Given this, we can’t judge BBC Three’s performance based on iPlayer requests alone as it’s just a small part of our new offer.
BBC Three is a long-term strategic move to build a brand that will engage young people in new ways across new platforms and reinvent the BBC for young people. These are our public purposes, our stated aims and the audience trends we are tracking are hugely encouraging.
We didn’t just switch from one delivery platform to another — it’s a more fundamental change in terms of content commissioning, content production, analytics-led distribution, designing audience journeys and more. The business of running BBC Three, the content we’re making and distributing are different beasts than the analogue BBC Three.
This is a marathon not a sprint but the early indicators are very positive and I know we are going in the right direction.
I urge you to take a look at www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree and BBC Three on iPlayer. Enjoy what we have on our social platforms. Look forward to what’s to come. Already lined up this summer is the brand new series of People Just Do Nothing, our Doctor Who spin-off Class from Patrick Ness, new documentaries from Reggie Yates, Stacey Dooley and Professor Green and a range of content about the US, as well as a whole load of brilliant new content from the in-house team that will make young people think and laugh.
Let’s go there.
The Best Of Three: bbc.co.uk/bbcthree
The Daily Drop: bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/daily-drop
BBC Three on iPlayer: bbc.co.uk/tv/bbcthree