Are we really as digital as we think we are?

Everywhere I go I see stories and hear tell of ‘the youth’ being all about digital and having no interest in the traditional media of yester-year.  They want their information quickly, on-demand and on the move. 

Or so we’re led to believe.

Back in March, the BBC announced that BBC 3 was to go online only since that’s where its audience wants to watch it.  However, it appears that this isn’t so.  A report published by the BBC Trust yesterday indicates BBC 3’s online presence isn’t as strong as they thought it was. 

BBC3 is the only one of the corporation’s main channels to retain its audience within its target age bracket. So, its programming is bang on the money in terms of targeting the right eyeballs.  Over ¼ of the UK’s 16-34 year olds watch it every week and that age group is full of digital innovators, ready to change the way we consume TV right?  Well, apparently not.  Only 7% of BBC3’s viewing is achieved online (via iPlayer). 

It would certainly appear that while pushing the channel online might save the BBC £100 million, it will also lose them important viewers who don’t identify with other BBC channels and who don’t watch TV programming online. 

It also begs the question, how will viewers who don’t have access to online facilities – rural parts of the UK, poor families etc – be able to carry on watching it?  Isn’t the BBC’s job, first and foremost, to be inclusive as well as innovative?

Don’t get me wrong, I am a digital adopter and I love the convenience it brings.  But just because it’s right for me, does not mean it’s right for all.  No matter how much Netflix et al. harp on about online TV consumption being the future, it would appear that TV channels accessed via a traditional TV are still the go-to medium, even for the trendy youth. 

Nick Southall is Associate Director at All about the Idea, leading the Consumer Communications team. You can find him expressing his opinions here, using a lot fewer characters (thank heavens for small mercies).     

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