BBC Eyes Plan To Make BBC Four A Global Subscription Service
May 21 2020
The channel moved online on the assumption that younger audiences prefer streaming services, but the success of recent hits such as Fleabag and Normal People, which garnered over 16 million views in its first week, may be prompting a change of direction.
It also follows a move previous year that saw the BBC create a dedicated slot devoted to the best of BBC Three programming on its flagship BBC One channel, offering comedy drama dating show Eating With My Ex and Stacey Dooley-fronted make-up competition Glow-Up.
The digital platform, which is home to the global hits Fleabag and Killing Eve, will see its budget doubled in an effort to bring it back to the TV screen. "There are no plans to close BBC Four", said a spokeswoman.
The increased programming budget for BBC Three will result in cuts across other areas of the corporation. Many, including the BBC's own press release, speculate that BBC Three's renewed role could come at BBC 4's expense - and even if it does become a global subscription service, the BBC's plan for the channel is to have the "best of" BBC Four's originals go to BBC Two, while BBC Four itself will become a respository for the organisation's "rich archive". It will have financial implications for the BBC, but that doesn't mean we can't make choices.
Elsewhere, the broadcaster has also said it has no plans to shutter its arts channel BBC Four, although rampant rumors emerged last week that the offering - once the United Kingdom home of "Mad Men" and "The Killing" - was set to be axed, particularly after its controller Cassian Harrison moved over to a more global-facing BBC Studios role.
"We need to back that success, so within an environment where we are making hard cuts, this is one of a limited number of areas, where we will seek to invest".
Ahead of the publication of the BBC's annual plan on Wednesday, outgoing BBC director-general Lord Hall wrote in the Daily Telegraph: "There can be no question that the battle for young people's time and attention is getting fiercer".
The source said no final decisions have been taken and options will be considered as viewing habits develop during the Covid-19 crisis.
The youth-focused channel was taken off air in 2016 and helped save he broadcaster a reported £30 million.