Entertainment & Arts

BBC ready for TV's 'second wave of disruption'

Tony Hall Image copyright Getty Images

The TV industry is about to enter "a second wave of disruption" due to new players in the streaming market, according to the BBC chief Tony Hall.

In a speech on Thursday, Lord Hall will say the main impact of the new Disney and Apple streaming services may be felt by Amazon and Netflix.

Lord Hall will welcome their arrival as an opportunity for the BBC to offer an even better service to the UK public.

He will say: "Our industry is about to enter a second wave of disruption.

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Image caption (L-R) Ruth Jones, Joanna Page, Mathew Horne and James Corden get festive in the Gavin and Stacey Christmas special

"The first was about the rise of Netflix, Amazon and Spotify - market shapers that fundamentally changed audience behaviour, often at the cost of huge losses or massive cross-subsidy."

"The second wave will see a range of new entrants entering an already crowded market," he will add.

"We saw it last week as Apple announced their new subscription service. Disney, Hulu and others are to follow.

"This is, of course, great for audiences. Possibly."

The BBC's director general will go on to say the libraries of Amazon and Netflix are "likely to shrink, as programme-makers pull their content away from these services to place them on their own".

"The established streamers will need to fight harder to offer the value they currently give today."

'Unique mission'

In July, it was announced that shows like Love Island, Gavin & Stacey, Gentleman Jack and Broadchurch will be available on Britbox - their joint streaming venture with ITV - when it launches this year.

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Speaking at the Royal Television Society convention in Cambridge, Lord Hall will argue that rather than being a threat, this "second wave of disruption" should act as an opportunity for the corporation, which is "much more than all of them put together.

"In this market, services that are distinctive and different will stand out."

"And two vital things make us different. Firstly, we have a unique mission and purpose, all audiences - young and old - believe in it.

"Purpose and values matter today more than ever, as people pick and choose services for ethical reasons as much as economic ones.

"Secondly, no one offers the range of content, in so many genres, on so many platforms, as the BBC," he went on.

"We're not Netflix, we're not Spotify. We're not Apple News. We're so much more than all of them put together."

From Monday, the BBC's Radio iPlayer is being phased out and users will be re-directed to the improved BBC Sounds instead. Lord Hall says BBC Sounds now has "all the key functionality of the old iPlayerRadio" and is being used by two million people every week.

Answering commentators who have argued that the BBC can only lose ground with younger audiences, Lord Hall noted how these online audio services are starting to turn the tide.

"In the space of a year, iPlayer's reach to young audiences is up by a third.

"There is really promising growth right across the piece. And that's before we roll out our full plans for extended availability and exclusive content."

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