BBC Three, the home of shows like “Fleabag” and “Normal People,” will return as a broadcast channel in January 2022, BBC said Tuesday. The younger-skewing brand has existed solely as digital offering since it was taken off the air in 2016.
As of next year, BBC will be using the relaunched BBC Three broadcast channel and the BBC iPlayer in tandem in an attempt “to grow our offer and deliver more value to younger audiences.” Conversation surrounding bringing back BBC Three as a broadcast channel began last May based on research that showed audience demand for the brand to have a linear platform.
Per the U.K. broadcast giant, “While the BBC does well with large parts of the younger audience – on average, young adults in the UK spend more media time per week (seven and a half hours) with BBC’s services than any other brand; our research identified a significant group of younger viewers who maintain a strong linear TV habit but are currently light users of the BBC. We want to change that.”
“BBC Three is a BBC success story, backing creativity, new talent and brave ideas has resulted in hit after hit, from Fleabag and Man Like Mobeen, Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK and Jesy Nelson’s Odd One Out, to Normal People and This Country,” Charlotte Moore, BBC’s chief content officer, said in a statement. “The BBC needs to back success and make sure its programmes reach as many young people as possible wherever they live in the UK. So regardless of the debates about the past, we want to give BBC Three its own broadcast channel again. It has exciting, groundbreaking content that deserves the widest possible audience and using BBC iPlayer alongside a broadcast channel will deliver the most value.”
The relaunched BBC Three “will deliver greater public value by further increasing the diversity and creativity of our output and build on the strengths of BBC Three’s online performance,” per BBC, who says it “will aim for at least two-thirds of the expanded BBC Three’s programme spend to be outside of London and across the UK.”
BBC plans for the new BBC Three to be targeted at audiences ages 16-34. The new channel will broadcast from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. local time each day, the same as the hours of the channel when it closed in 2016. That means CBBC’s broadcast hours will go back to ending at 7 p.m., as they did before BBC Three was taken off air. BBC plans to “expand the remit of BBC Three with a pre-watershed content offer suitable for 13+.”