British content is ‘under serious threat’ from Netflix and Amazon, says BBC
Once a corporation that ruled the media landscape in the UK, the BBC is now finding that traditional viewers of its TV programming are flocking to US-based media giants.
As the broadcaster releases its second annual report since the government established its new charter in 2016, the corporation has admitted that British content is being seriously threatened by the likes of Netflix and Amazon, and it needs to reinvent itself if it wants to compete.
In the annual report, the BBC outlined how the younger generation is turning away from the corporation’s content. According to the report, 16-24 year olds spend more time on Netflix in one week than they do with the whole of BBC television, including BBC iPlayer, in the same amount of time.
The trend continues for the 5-15 year-old demographic. 82% of children go to YouTube for their content, half go to Netflix, and just 29% watch content on the BBC iPlayer.
“As the trend shifts towards on-demand viewing, the BBC risks being overtaken by competitors,” the report reads. “Sustaining the quality that audiences demand is increasingly difficult in a world where inflation in some genres is running at unprecedented levels.”
Still, while it might appear that the BBC is fighting a losing battle against US-based media giants with – in its own words – “extraordinary creative and financial firepower”, it isn’t backing down.
In order to combat the swathes of people switching over to on-demand streaming television, the broadcaster intends to make the BBC experience better to lure people back over.
For one, BBC iPlayer will be getting a large update. This includes more personalisation to bring the experience in line with Netflix and Amazon, introduce more live content, and improve availability of older shows on the platform. It will also look to expand and increase its drama, sports and factual content, with a focus on episodic documentaries.
But really, without the funds, Britain’s cornerstone media corporation isn’t really going to be able to do very much about the omnipresent nature of US-based streaming television companies, which have cash coming out of their ears.
Funding for the BBC’s UK services has fallen by a massive 18% since 2010, with “high super-inflation in areas such as drama and comedy”. The BBC is seeing this inflation move into the corporation’s own key areas of output, “such as factual programming. The cost of sports broadcasting rights has skyrocketed, while overall the cost of ideas and talent has risen fast.”
The BBC already had its license fees frozen in 2010, meaning it hasn’t been able to increase its revenue for many years. As US giants continue to increase their budgets, the BBC has had to deal with the cord-cutting generation.