Tuesday, February 16, 2016
BBC3 & The Independent - 2 Unwilling Experiments
Both BBC3 and The Independent are going online only, ceasing digital broadcast and newsprint publication respectively, as money-saving initiatives they have both been forced into.
From a personal point of view, neither are major parts of my media consumption. I've seen a few things on BBC3 - The Professor Green programme on suicide was very good - and I've read a few articles in the Independent because I follow them on Twitter and click on links. (I was a pretty loyal reader in the early days, but one by one the good writers got lured away, and it suffered horribly from a lack of investment).
It's going to be interesting to see how both fare. The fact that my experience of the Indie is via Twitter & Facebook points towards how I'm still going to see the output of both. I never see a paper copy of the New York Times but I must read about 4-5 stories a month because they're shared by people or entities that I follow. Likewise Netflix isn't broadcast, but you couldn't escape people talking about Making a Murderer about a month ago. Also, podcasts.
(I must point out that both the NYT and Netflix are successfully getting people to pay subscriptions)
The best case scenario for both I think is...
BBC3's new shows are well made, and the people in them share the links via social media. BBC3 uses a lot of talent who have big followings, and could be encouraged to share as part of their contracts. I've always felt that the people who moaned about BBC3 being online only didn't really know how young people find and watch content (I'd love to see some of the iPlayer stats for example). The BBC is going to increase the marketing spend for the channel, apparently, which is kind of the wrong way round, but let's see how it works.
Similarly the Independent needs to get its feature writers to actively share, and also needs to commission work from people with strong followings. This could lead them down the 'Youth Hostelling with Chris Eubank' school of commissioning (hope not) but it could also find some new voices. The Guardian always gets lots of readers (I think) for articles written by Russell Brand for example. The most important thing is the features - too many news organisations will cover the news the the same way, so they can compete best with features. Again the key is the sharing.
So I can see both working well, but then I'm a natural optimist. If they do work well, I can see other newspapers especially following the digital-only route.
The worst case scenario... Well, both fail. Let's hope it doesn't get to that.