Institut für Kommunikationswissenschaft und Medienforschung (IFKW)




New study is first to analyse the effects of going online-only on a TV channel

BBC Three was the first major TV channel to close its broadcast platform and reinvent itself online. Neil Thurman's new study is the first to analyse changes in how BBC Three is consumed and the shows it offers.


Although it is more common for newspapers and magazines than for TV channels to go online-only, BBC Three is no longer alone. Two of the Danish Broadcasting Corporation's channels, DR 3 and DR Ultra, closed their broadcasting platforms in January 2020 and Dutch youth TV channel NPO3 has been allowed to continue to broadcast but only 'for the time being'.

Professor Thurman's new study—which will appear in Convergence—provides an indication of what could be in store for these and other TV stations that end linear transmission and deliver their programming solely over the internet.

BBC Three is viewed for 89% less time per year since it reinvented itself online than it was on linear television before.

Most—79%—of the online viewing is still via TV sets—that is watching the channel's BVOD service on a SmartTV. So, the TV set remains the preferred device for consuming televisual content, even at a channel that has reinvented itself online.

Furthermore, BBC Three's 16–34 year-old target audience shrank 69% on a weekly basis. Professor Thurman estimates the falls in audience size were up to five times higher than they would have been if BBC Three had continued broadcasting.

The study, an edited version of which was published by Enders Analysis, received extensive media coverage, including in MailOnline, Politiken, and the Evening Standard.