FEATURE5 August 2021

Public interest: Data and the BBC

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The BBC is facing perhaps the biggest transformation of its 98-year history, and data is helping it connect – and reconnect – with audiences. By Katie McQuater.

BBC Building 1

When Tim Davie took up his role as the 17th director general of the BBC in September 2020, he said in his introductory speech: “The future of a universal BBC can no longer be taken for granted. We have no inalienable right to exist. We are only as good as the value we deliver our audiences, our customers.”

He added: “For the avoidance of doubt, I do not want a subscription BBC that serves the few.”

The manifesto underlined the challenges faced by the public service broadcaster – one major one being funding: the government has said the licence fee will be reviewed before the current charter ends in 2027.

With a diverse media landscape offering more choice to the public than ever before, and the rise of on-demand television, audio and podcasts through the likes of Netflix, Spotify and Amazon Prime Video, the ‘Beeb’ no longer has the monopoly on the attention of British audiences in the way it used to.

The challenge ...