Naturally, the demise of BBC3 has caused a mini-furore among certain elements of the entertainment community. A blow to original comedy. The death of new talent. A victory for the men in suits. All statements I've heard in the last thirty-minutes from fractious BBC3 comedians and pundits who are all too keen to stick the boot in to our Nation's softest and most exposed media target.
But, has anyone considered how good this could be? This soon-to-be-euthanised channel could pave the way for a media platform that is not only more powerful in creating and nurturing talent, but more inclusive.
The viewing figures of BBC3 have always been the antithesis of its cost so it was only a matter of time before the axe fell. The channel faced unenviable pressure to satisfy the complex needs and evolving desires of an age-group who are young, smart, cynical and unrelenting. To adequately achieve this on a channel that's off air most of the day using license payer's money really was a farcical proposition. This target age group is possibly the most challenging to access particularly because other new media outlets pose constant competition. Netflix, LoveFilm and Youtube, for example, are all potent streams dedicated to offering exactly what these viewers want when these viewers want it. Their strategy offers a perfect formula for the BBC3 target age group which, ironically, BBC3 could never recreate.
From a programming perspective, BBC3 content has often felt muddled. As has the breaking of new and original talent. You can't deny there's been some success, but not as much as the BBC hoped and certainly not £85m worth. And unfortunately, behind the 'new talent and original ideas' headline, the BBC has actually shown little appetite for 'new talent and original ideas'. What BBC3 really wanted was existing and proven talent, not quite a household name with an original way of presenting a non-original idea. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that unless you really are genuine new talent with an original idea. That makes for a risky gamble.
Which leads me to the crux of this blog; why the demise of BBC3 is a good thing for these emerging, creative trailblazers. By making BBC3 an online channel, the pressures lift instantly. Already, this platforms speaks louder and more clearly to the target demographic than traditional TV ever could. Not only that, it's cheaper. Programmes can be shorter. Form and format doesn't exist in this realm. Three minutes can be as good as 30 and one episode can be stronger than 10. The dotted i's and crossed t's that make conventional television so formulaic do not exist in the boundless soup of online merriment. It's a free and exciting world where real new talent can be given a real outing. If a whole series is too much of a risk, given them ten minutes. Ground-breaking concepts can be created without rocking the corporate boat; it's cyber-space, after all. As YouTube has taught us, anything goes. Just ask Charlie. Who bites fingers.
The truth is, as a traditional television channel, BBC3 was always a flawed proposition that could never adequately fulfil its objectives. But online, the game changes beyond recognition. It can finally be the champion of breaking talent. It can at last be a true bastion of originality.
I just hope the BBC allows it to fly. Because if it's repackaged as is and dumped in a hidden corner of iPlayer, they may as well kill it all together. And that would be a shame. Because right now, the swan song of BBC3 has the potential to be a musical prelude to the greatest chapter in its history.Suggest a correction