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article imageBBC announces £34m fund to resist Netflix's popularity with kids

By James Walker     Jul 4, 2017 in Technology
The BBC has announced a new £34 million investment in digital content as it plans to fend off competition from Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. The broadcaster is focusing on children, claiming UK youth are influenced by American tech giants.
The announcement was made in the BBC's new Annual Plan for the year ahead. It will plough an additional £34 million into the creation of children's services over the next three years to 2020. This investment sits above the regular funding that is already assigned to the production of children's entertainment.
The BBC said it wants to reinvent itself "for a new generation." It reflected that it has lost its historical audience of younger viewers to always-on web-based providers. These are typically located in the U.S. and tend to reflect American culture. The BBC wants to change this, offering UK children online content that aligns with their own experiences in society.
The BBC has observed steady declines in viewership of its CBBC children's channel over the past six years. Over the same period, use of the BBC iPlayer streaming service by children in CBBC's six to 12-year-old audience has risen. Overall usage of the Internet among children has far outgrown TV viewing with most young people spending fifteen hours each week on the web.
The new children's services being developed by the BBC will aim to reflect the realities of how children consume content. While original video will remain the core focus, it'll be supplemented by robust online content. Apps, games, vlogs and podcasts will become a staple of the BBC's children's entertainment. BBC Director-General Tony Hall said "every part " of the BBC will pull together to realise the aims of the plan, enabling it to produce "world-class" content for young people.
"The new funding we’ve announced today for our Children’s services – the biggest investment for a generation – will help us ensure we can maintain our reputation for world-class programmes across our linear channels, but also increasingly offer a personalised online offering for our younger viewers," said Hall. "By keeping our focus on our audiences we’ll be best placed to meet the challenges ahead of us and will ensure the BBC of 2022 continues to serves the whole of the UK."
There have been calls for years for UK children's TV providers to do more to resist the importing of U.S. content. The rise of popular streaming services such as Netflix has made the challenge more of a priority though.
The Telegraph reports the broadcaster now accounts for 97 percent of all original children's shows in the UK, a statistic that has alarmed bodies including the communications regulator Ofcom. Earlier this year, Ofcom was granted the power to force UK broadcasters to spend more money on home-grown children's content.
Amid fears UK children's shows could soon be lost forever, the BBC is taking a strong stance against its tech-driven commercial rivals. It said it will create an "enhanced online offer" for young people that's focused on content and interactivity.
More about BBC, Netflix, Entertainment, Children, children's tech