Youth TV – 'the need for speed'

The BBC's youth TV channel to close; but a different story emerges in Belgium.

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In the UK the BBC has announced that it is to close its youth-oriented TV channel and move the content onto its online platform the iPlayer.Previous proposals to close down radio channels have been revised following public outcry.  In 2010 the BBC announced it wanted to close down two radio stations - 6 Music and the Asian Network.  Neither station was closed.  However, it seems unlikely that BBC Three will be saved.  The Corporation needs to make savings and this move alone could save it £50million a year. Some commentators have suggested the move is short-sighted.  The BBC is funded by licence payers and young people are the licence payers of the future.

In Belgium, VRT, the public service broadcaster has been developing digital projects to engage with its younger audience.  Rachel Bartlett, writing on Journalism.co.uk, describes how the broadcaster developed an internal 'start-up' to experiment with new platforms to re-engage with younger viewers.  The broadcaster has been consulting the target audience and is now developing three projects that reflect the way young people use and engage with social media:

  • a mobile video project on Instagram and Snapchat - Ninjanieuws
  • Sambal a Facebook-supported news platform
  • OpenVRT which encourages young people to collaborate with the channel via video, photography and blogging.

Key lessons - 'the need for speed'

  • Keep videos very short
  • Embed animated gifs into articles - link out to YouTube
  • 15-second long videos helped launch Ninjaniews
  • Tell a news story on a 10-second Snapchat video
  • For the target audience (16-24) - focus on Facebook not Twitter
  • There's no need for a homepage - Facebook drives traffic
  • Facebook also provides a home for ‘pop-up digital news products' that respond quickly to certain trends

You can read Rachel's full article on Journalism.co.uk.