The 80′s a fine decade. Well maybe I don’t really remember it, being born in June of 1980 as I was I pretty much spent half of the decade crapping my pants. I’ll let you decide which half that was. In the UK we had no remote control on the TV and when you got up to change the channel (Yes kids) you had the choice of 3 channels plus the new upstart Channel 4 from 1982 onwards.
On demand TV was how loud you shouted “I want to watch…” and your Sky Plus was a scuzzy Scotch VHS tape that allowed you to watch one thing and record another. The Internet was around in university computer labs, although Netflix was a while off and even if it was around they would still be waiting around now to see the opening frame of Breaking Bad given the speeds of the connection.
Fast forward to now and we have a multitude of things to watch, on a plethora of channels, platforms and devices. The BBC at the time of writing has ballooned from 2 channels in 80′s to 9 channels. All of which air via digital TV in the UK. It was announced yesterday that one of those 9, BBC Three, is going to go “online only” prompting lots of twitter outcry and #SaveBBCThree hashtaggery.
Why save something that isn’t going?
BBC Three is the corporations “Youth” offering, serving a demographic which I am still just part of. The same demographic (to generalise) have access to a smartphone, are computer savvy, have access to high speed broadband, regularly watch on-demand content. So for BBC Three’s target audience very little will change, especially if they have a smart TV. If it was BBC 2 or BBC Four I would understand the concern. Given the older target audience, again to generalise.
I believe that in the next fifteen to twenty years the only programming that will be scheduled, as it has been since the very start of TV, will be live sporting events and news programmes. Everything else will be delivered as you want it when you want it, in a similar way to how Netflix works now. So BBC Three is ahead of the game on this one, and although it will still run to an online schedule, if viewing figures are good I see other channels following suit.
The revolution will not be televised. But it will be downloaded.