In an effort to win kids back from popular online platforms like Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and Facebook, the BBC is set to spend an additional US$44 million (£34 million) over its existing budgets in British kids content—representing the corporation’s largest investment in children’s services in a generation.
Announced by director general Tony Hall as part of the BBC’s 2017/18 annual plan, the funding will be spent over the next three years and will significantly boost BBC Children’s online budget. The investment, which was made possible by recent savings across the BBC, will see BBC’s Children’s budget increase from US$143 million (£110 million) today to US$161 million (£124.4 million) by 2019/20.
BBC Children’s will continue to spend the majority of its budget on its kids TV channels CBeebies and CBBC across every genre, including drama, comedy, factual and news. However, there will be fewer new TV brands commissioned going forward to make room for online growth. In fact, by 2019/20, a quarter or US$41 million (£31.4 million) will be spent online. The funding will cover cross-platform multimedia content including video, live online program extensions and clips, as well as pictures, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, quizzes, guides, games and apps.
The move is designed to give BBC Children’s audiences more ways to create, connect and share interactive content across channel websites and apps, as well as via the popular BBC iPlayer and newly launched iPlayer Kids app.
Prior to the funding injection, CBBC underwent a significant rebrand in March 2016 that specifically targeted the digital generation.
Today’s funding announcement follows a decade-long decline in UK-commissioned children’s shows that culminated with UK media regulator Ofcom setting new quotas in March for first-run, UK-originated kids programming on the BBC. From April 3, the new rules require CBBC to broadcast at least 400 hours (72%), and CBeebies to air at least 100 hours (70%), of all-new, first-run UK-commissioned content every year.
In line with the quotas, the Beeb recently announced a raft of new in-house commissions including CBBC series Katy and Max and Harvey – Breaking America, as well as three CBeebies programs including Feeling Better and Biggleton.
The new funding policies will be will be discussed by BBC Children’s director Alice Webb and the BBC’s director of strategy and digital James Purnell during today’s opening session of the 2017 Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield, England.