Under pressure from Netflix and Amazon – BBC spends extra £34m on children’s TV

Alice Webb, Director, BBC Children’s.

The BBC has committed to spend an extra £34m on children’s content over the next three years as part of its plans to reinvent the corporation “for a new generation” and compete with other media such as Netflix, Amazon and YouTube.

Alice Webb, Director, BBC Children’s, said: “Our audience is rapidly changing and now more than ever we need to keep up. We’re home to the most popular kids TV channels in the UK, but as our audience increasingly move online it’s our job to stay relevant, inspiring and engaging them on whichever platform they choose. Today’s announcement means that whilst we’ll continue to make exceptional, distinctive public service UK children’s content across all of our platforms, we’ll also be able to develop a more personal online service that meets the evolving needs of our audience.”

Last year, Netflix announced it was producing its first British children’s programmes to broaden the appeal of its subscription streaming service and fill a gap in the market left by the UK broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 as they decreased their spend on children’s television. At the same time, Amazon began heavily marketing its library of children’s programming and revealed it would build a commissioning team in London.

The investment, delivered following savings made across the BBC, will see the budget for children’s programming reach £124.4m by 2019-20, up from the current figure of £110m. In the three years, £31.4m will be spent online on content that will include video, live online programme extensions, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, quizzes, guides, games and apps.

Director general Tony Hall added: “We put children’s front and centre throughout the charter renewal process and today’s announcement reflects our commitment to our youngest audiences. We’re making BBC Children’s fit for the future, maintaining our world-class channels whilst enhancing our online offer to meet the needs of the next generation.”

The BBC said the investment will enable BBC Children’s to deliver its renewed strategy, set out in the BBC Annual Plan 2017/18:

  • Content that stands out from the crowd: we will focus on a smaller number of stand-out titles for which we will commission TV series and high-quality brand extensions across all platforms. This will require delivery of an all-year-round support of multimedia content, including video, live online programme extensions and clips, pics, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, quizzes, guides, games and apps.
  • Content that is delivered wherever and whenever our audience wants it: we will ensure our most popular content is always on, just as children now expect, through BBC iPlayer/iPlayer Kids. And through sign-in, we will ensure that children can enjoy age-appropriate content from across the BBC on BBC iPlayer
  • Content that is supported by interactive capabilities that enable our audience to create, connect and share: we will join up and expand the set of interactive digital content, capabilities and experiences available to our audience, building on the engagement already achieved through our children’s websites and apps but with more opportunities to create, connect and share.