BBC to launch kids-specific streaming service

The BBC has revealed its Big Digital Plan for Children with the iPlay streaming service at its center. Over time, BBC Children's controller Alice Webb says the OTT service will commission new original content like film, games and other interactive formats.
September 25, 2015

BBC Children director Alice Webb has revealed the pubcaster’s Big Digital Plan for Children, and at the heart of it is a kid-friendly version of the popular BBC iPlayer, an online and smart device streaming service for BBC’s slate of kids content.

The working title for the new kids on-demand platform, which will only contain age-appropriate content from CBeebies, CBBC and across the BBC, is iPlay. According to Webb, who has been at the helm of BBC Children’s since January, iPlay will act as a “single, online front-door for children to the wealth of the whole BBC and trusted partners beyond—giving content to children that matures with them, from a range of platforms in a safe and trusted way.”

Speaking earlier today in Salford, England, Webb said the goal is for the service to become a trusted guide and provide the UK’s 12 million children with a personal menu of their favorite content. Over time, it will connect with other trusted organizations to allow for the commissioning of new content such as film, audio clips, games and other interactive formats.

Part of the ambitious digital project will be a shift towards “making more noisy content that stands out from the crowd,” or phrased differently—fewer titles with a wider range of touch points. A key piece of this strategy will be looking at bringing in live events and family films to complement long-form and new short-form content.

Learning and making will also be core tenets of iPlay, Webb said, so that children are active, not just passive consumers. Therefore, the platform will include things like blogs, podcasts and other education tools designed to help kids develop their digital and creative skills.

But iPlay won’t just be a tool for younger kids. In fact, we can also expect new content targeting the 12 to 15 demo, in areas such as drama, current affairs and news, designed to help teens transition from adolescence to adulthood.

Webb admitted it will take several years to deliver on all the broadcaster’s plans for “British, Bold, Children,” however it is starting with the launch of the iPlay app early next year.

“We know that, while TV is still important, content no longer has to go hand in hand with the big screen in the corner. So we’ll take our great ideas and develop them in new ways to reach, inspire and entertain children wherever they are, whenever they want it,” Webb said.

A closer look at recent stats offer a window into BBC’s children’s digital push:

  • 75% of children now have access to a tablet at home
  • 50% of primary school kids use social media
  • Kids watch 5.5 hours of media per day
  • 89% of kids still prefer to watch TV (until age 12 when mobile takes over)
  • 25% of kids access CBBC via BBC iPlayer
  • BBC reaches 82% of UK kids 0 to 6 and 58% of kids 6 to 12
  • 500 million downloads of kids content on BBC iPlayer in first six month this year (nearly double from the same period last year)





About The Author
Patrick Callan is a senior writer at Kidscreen. He reports on the licensing and consumer products side of the global children's entertainment industry via daily news coverage and in-depth features. Contact Patrick at



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