BBC3 will switchover from TV to online on 16 February 2016
The British TV landscape will look a little different from 16 February as BBC3 will be switching over. The sister channel of BBC1 and BBC2 will be shutting down its TV station and heading online in a bid to suit the needs of its loyal viewers, according to the BBC.
Shows like Family Guy will disappear from the BBC's channels (with Seth MacFarlane's animated comedy switching to ITV2), while the EastEnders repeat that was typically broadcast at 10pm on BBC3 will be found on the BBC iPlayer. As viewers get to grips with the big change, entertainment reporters Alicia Adejobi and Amy West debate whether it will benefit or become a detriment to the BBC.
For the switchover – senior entertainment reporter Alicia Adejobi
From the moment it was launched in 2003, it was always clear BBC3 was intended for a younger, hipper audience in comparison to its counterparts, BBC1, BBC2 and BBC4. The likes of Gavin And Stacey, Family Guy, Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps and Sun, Sex And Suspicious Parents were evidently targeted at the teenage and twentysomething demographic, who were perhaps searching for something less stiff to sink their teeth into.
In my eyes, BBC3 served the purpose of what E4 became to Channel 4. A hub where the more light-hearted shows could sit without damaging the reputation and landscape of the more prestigious BBC1 and BBC2. Of course, that is not to say people in their thirties or forties would not watch BBC3 but its core audience did lie within the younger age bracket.
In the age of social media, an increasing number of TV shows are now encouraging viewers to interact during broadcasts, often promoting hashtags so they can discuss the episode on Twitter and Facebook. Furthermore, in December 2015, an annual Ofcom report revealed 70% of UK adults (31 million) are using catch-up services such as BBC iPlayer to watch their favourite programmes while the traditional form of TV continues to rapidly decline.
With so much TV consumption taking place on the great big internet, it only makes sense that BBC3 follows the path of its viewers and makes the transition to the online space. Without the constraints of sticking to a timed schedule, relocating BBC3 online allows for more programming and a broader range of shows thus ultimately appealing to a wider audience outside the channel's typical age bracket.
Bafta-nominee Idris Elba has reportedly signed up to create three short films for the online version of the channel and if this is the calibre of content it will produce going forward, then going online is definitely the right decision.
Against the switchover – entertainment reporter Amy West
There are some people who never turn on their televisions unless there is a specific programme that they want to watch at that time. For those people, of which I don't think are a majority, BBC3's decision to reinvent itself online won't make a big impact. But for square eyes like me, it certainly does, and its move sparks up an even further dislike in my mind of everything soon being online.
You see, watching television, whether you're sitting in silence or not, can quite often be a sociable thing and it's nice just getting cosy after a long hard day and watching something a bit mindless. However you spin it, clamouring around a laptop is neither comfortable nor sociable... and it's considerably more effort.
From what I have gathered in the past few weeks, BBC3 is going to cease hosting a lot of its most well-loved shows after the switchover. Recently, we have been bombarded by adverts on ITV2 revealing how Family Guy is moving over to the BBC competitor, the comedy being one show that has been synonymous with BBC3 since 2006. The Beeb still has the rights to show re-runs but all new episodes will be shown on ITV2. While this doesn't affect fans so much – they'll just watch ITV2 – it is bound to lose BBC3 a massive following.
Similarly, with a lot of the shows aired on the channel, you wouldn't necessarily load up your tablet with them, but if you fancy something easy to watch one evening, you're likely to put it on the television. Don't Tell The Bride is a perfect example of a show that makes great viewing if you stumble on it, but you wouldn't go out of your way to find it online. Basically, it's the BBC's answer to Come Dine With Me: a welcome guilty pleasure.
Lastly, BBC3 has acted as a springboard for many popular shows that undoubtedly wouldn't have an initial platform if the channel was not in existence given their tone or subject matter. Little Britain, Torchwood and Gavin And Stacey are just some of the titles that were shown on BBC3 when they first started and each went on to have huge success, later moving to more mainstream channels. By making the move online, the BBC is is curbing the potential growth of series that start with them, for good.