The future of BBC – online-only within a decade?

Director general of the BBC Tim Davie has revealed the corporation will combine its brands digitally as he begins online-only vision

The BBC is starting to make its linear channels online-only within the next ten years, Tim Davie has revealed.

Speaking at an RTS event on the 7th of December, the director general warned that the market will move towards an internet-first future by 2030, resulting in the switch off of many linear TV and radio channels.

Intrinsically, the Director is planning for the BBC to become a “digitally led public service media company of scale” which will “consolidate more activity behind a simple, single brand”.

According to Davie, by having fewer individual brands, it will make it easier for viewers to find content online.

“A switch off of broadcast will and should happen over time, and we should be active in planning for it,” he said.

“Over time this will mean fewer linear broadcast services and a more tailored joined up online offer.

“For the BBC, internet-only distribution is an opportunity to connect more deeply with our audiences and to provide them with better services and choice than broadcast allows.

“We are working on how an online BBC could be the best version of the BBC, shaped around people’s interests and needs – a daily partner to your life, bringing the BBC together in a single offer with personalised combinations.

“Imagine having increased functionality when watching a football game online,” he continued.

He alerted it would need massive financial expenditure and a “radical overhaul” of data and operating models.

Davie also added the BBC would invest in a “heavyweight, world-class” tech team to achieve this goal.

“Moving to digital is not the challenge in of itself, moving to digital while not losing most of your audience and burning millions of pounds unnecessarily is the challenge,” he said.

Davie said BBC will strive for internet availability for all UK audiences for the move to be successful.

With forecasts suggesting that by 2030, two million homes will not be using broadband, Davie said the BBC must “work together” with regulators and politicians to close the gap and assure all of the UK can access TV and radio via the internet.

While he said the BBC could not simply pay for this, it will become “more active” in educating people about the online move and making it a more “attractive” opportunity.

He said: “This isn’t something to resist. A fully connected UK has very significant benefits for society and our economy. It could unleash huge opportunities for innovation.”

He warned that not agreeing on a digital push could place inordinate control in the hands of “well capitalised overseas companies”, which included the global streamers, and could disenfranchise viewers from major programming like the news.

This article is based on a piece by Broadcast