A BBC boss has admitted that the corporation is struggling to compete with rivals, including online streaming services such as Netflix which are ‘able to blow them out of the water’. He has conceded that the BBC will have to adjust to a “hybrid” world in which people access content both via the TV and online.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Danny Cohen, the BBC’s director of TV said “There’s been a recent example where Netflix was able to blow us out of the water in terms of a deal. The sums offered by Netflix were five times what we could offer.”
And he said that Netflix, Sky and ITV are all planning to increase their investments in drama in order to take advantage of a new perceived “golden age of television”. Netflix has already scored one major hit with its remake of House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey, ironically, originally a BBC miniseries aired in the early 1990s.
Their investment leaves the BBC with “hard choices”, Mr Cohen said, as it struggles to serve a wide audience with its £2.4 billion content budget.
However, he was generally upbeat, highlighting successes such as the final of the Great British Bake Off, which attracted an audience of 13.5 million viewers, nearly as many as tuned in for England’s match against Uruguay in the World Cup. The viewing figures were “a big achievement,” he said. The show, alongside the BBC’s other flagship competition format show Strictly Come Dancing helped the BBC secure a 21.7 percent share of viewing figures overall, against ITV’s 15.6 percent.
Yet last year the number of UK households with at least one television fell for the first time ever, from 26.3 million to 26 million, according to research by Ofcom, the communications regulator. The research also found that nearly 1 million people now live in homes that have broadband but no TV.
“Television’s not going away, channels are not going away for quite some time, but more people are going to watch online,” Mr Cohen said, adding that the BBC will have to adjust to a “hybrid world” of both live and online viewing. “It’s going to affect how people design their homes,” he joked.