BBC Three Controller discusses commissioning digital-first content with Creative Producing students

Having recently agreed to join the Advisory Panel for our Creative Producing for Digital Platforms Diploma, Controller of BBC Three, Damian Kavanagh visited the school and delivered an inspiring talk to the students about running an online-only BBC TV channel and commissioning digital-first content.

Creative Digital Producing students, Lizzie Small, Tara Jasminaz
and Oredola Agunbiade with Damian Kavanagh

BBC Three became an online-only channel in February 2016, targeting a 16-25 year old audience that has increasingly abandoned scheduled linear TV programmes in favour of always-on multichannel network series from the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime, and streams of short form social content distributed via YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat.

Since its relaunch, BBC Three has been so successful in its experimentation with different programme formats on various platforms that it won the prestigious ‘RTS Channel of the Year’ award for 2017.

Damian previewed a number of new BBC Three shows, covering both documentary and drama, and talked about what he’s learned over the last couple of years including how an online channel differs from traditional TV - in terms of programme length, format, look and feel, scheduling, series uploads, audience metrics and talent.

One of his biggest insights was to show how programme-making for BBC Three has increasingly been freed from the shackles of traditional scheduling and standard length. ‘A show can now be as long as it needs to be,’ said Kavanagh. A documentary that comes out with a natural viewing time of 73 minutes, no longer has to be recut to come in under an hour; or a short form comedy can be made as a collection of 8-minutes posts published online all at once, rather than as 30-minute episodes broadcast once a week.

Damian also talked about his new role as an editorial lead for BBC Taster, the online home for experiments and new ideas from BBC R&D, involving new technologies and formats. In the near future, this could lead to the emergence of new kinds of web and digital content from the BBC including VR applications, games and other forms of interactivity - offering exciting opportunities for young, talented digital producers.

The National Film and Television School Creative Producing for Digital Platforms Diploma teaches you the skills you need to devise, develop and deliver interactive and immersive experiences that audiences of the future will love. You’ll learn how to produce content for new platforms from Snapchat to Facebook Live, and invent new ways to play and experience the world through VR, augmented reality, apps and games.

The application deadline for entry onto the course in January 2019 is 27th September. Apply here.