BBC3 reveals audience targets for first time as it chases new generation of online viewers

Controller says channel is on course for being watched by 10 per cent of all of the UK’s 16-34-year-old viewers each week

Thirteen, Ivy Elliot and Lisa

BBC3 controller Damian Kavanagh has revealed he aims to reach 10 per cent of all viewers aged 16-34 by 2020 – the first time the online-only channel’s audience targets have been made public.

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Speaking to the Broadcasting Press Guild, he said that the channel set its viewer target at the beginning of 2016 when it went online.

He added that the channel is on course for that figure, with BBC3 currently reaching 8.5 per cent of people within that age range.

He said that the figure included viewing via platforms such as Facebook but only took into account “engaged reach” – meaning people had to comment, like or share BBC3 content.

He said that continued viewing of programmes such as the drama Thirteen – the so-called “long-tail viewing” – meant that viewing numbers are going to accelerate. Thirteen launched on the service in February 2016.

“Our reach started at 3.2 per cent [when BBC3 moved online] and is now growing. We set ourselves a 10% target which we didn’t expect to reach before three or four years.

“We are way ahead of time and we are only 18 months in.”

Until now the BBC hadn’t made its internal audience targets public ahead of BBC3’s controversial move online 18 months ago.

However, it is a sign of its confidence that it will reach its target that it has spoken so openly about its aims. BBC3 hits include Thirteen, comedies People Just Do Nothing and Fleabag, and hard-hitting docudramas such as Murdered for Being Different and Murdered by My Boyfriend.

However its own targets are likely to be scrutinised by the BBC Trust which is currently assessing the channel’s performance since the move online. The Trust, which monitors BBC performance, will report its views in the BBC’s annual report next year.

The Trust has already said that it didn’t expect BBC3 to match the viewing figures of the old linear channel. When it was a broadcast channel, BBC3 reached about 20 per cent of 16 to 34-year-olds each week.

Kavanagh added: “BBC3 moved online 18 months ago and at the time I said the transition would be a marathon not a sprint as we learnt and adapted our behaviour to ensure we reach young audiences wherever they are.

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“Looking back I feel an enormous sense of pride about what the BBC3 team and all the creative talent who work with us have achieved.  We’ve more than doubled our total brand reach and seen phenomenal growth on social platforms producing original content with true public purpose.”