IN THE END, it left with a whimper, not a bang. A repeat of Gavin and Stacey in the early hours of Tuesday morning marked the unassuming end of BBC Three as it headed off 'normal' telly and onto the internet.
A 'barker' channel currently in its place includes the words: 'BBC Three is no longer a television channel.' But that's not strictly accurate. BBC Three has morphed into a far better reflection of the state of television today and in the future.
The 'death' of BBC Three is essentially for financial reasons, but it also represents the reality of 21st century youth who increasingly watch TV online. Remember Band Aid 30? YouTube celebrities, not just pop stars, were invited to sing on the record because Bob Geldof, himself no stranger to youth TV, understood that the internet is the new TV. Thus, Zoella and Fella made more sense than Nelly and blokes off the telly.
The new paradigm for broadcasting is about what you want, when you want it and, perhaps more importantly, where you want it. So alongside the long-form shows such as the sublime People Just Do Nothing there will be 'Three briefs', tiny shows to watch on the bus on your mobile, available not just on iPlayer but on YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.
Many people have criticised the move online believing that it will alienate a crucial BBC market. In fact, what the BBC may well have done is assure the market by responding to how youth consumes television.
It's no coincidence that when the BBC tested the water with Jack Whitehall sitcom Bad Education, placing it online weeks before broadcast, it became the biggest iPlayer show to date at the time.
The point is that there is a huge demand for IPTV. The recent launch of Sky Q, which provides seamless viewing between rooms and mobile devices with a heavy emphasis on streamed on-demand content, is a reflection of the future of television.
Unfortunately, Sky Q suffers from a key problem: the demographic most ready to embrace it has been priced out because it's too expensive. For maximum penetration, Sky really ought to offer student discounts.
But it takes only a £50 Roku box to see the tens of thousands of specialist on-demand services that are available around the world. Most of them are free and they are the future for your average 'cable cutter'.
Another recent example, Doctor Who, has seen linear ratings plummet, but viewers are stable overall, instead choosing to follow the story at their convenience on the internet.
Internet viewing is the new reality and we can certainly expect fewer linear channels and more on-demand formats. If you are a Freeview user, check the bottom end of the EPG and you'll see that it has started with a seemingly regular 'channel' that is, in fact, a portal to on-demand documentaries.
There will always be exceptions, of course. News, sport and appointment-to-view programmes will always have a place, but even these have been affected by the internet. 'Second screening' is commonplace now, even for more 'stuffy' shows. Press the red button during Question Time and you'll see that you can watch reactions as people tweet into the show.
Some of BBC Three's key programmes may have gone. Retaining Family Guy would have cost over half the new channel's budget so it'll be on ITV2 from the end of the month, while office favourite Don't Tell The Bridge (sic) moves to Sky One. But the future for BBC Three is brighter than its critics make out.
Also included in the new BBC Three are box sets of classic shows from the channel, many available on-demand for the first time, all possible thanks to the move to IP broadcasting.
Saying that it's 'no longer a TV channel' sells it very short. It has become a trailblazer for the future of TV, the TV that the next generation will expect based not on broadcasting the same thing to everyone, but on internet narrowcasting the right programme to the right person, right now. µ
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