In The Frame October 19'
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In The Frame October 19'


A sharp rise in profits but reduced growth in subscriber numbers were revealed this month in the latest Netflix accounts. Disney, NBCUniversal and AT&T all soon launch streaming services of their own, and Apple’s service, Apple TV+, launches on 1 November, prompting Netflix to write in a letter to shareholders: “Many are focused on the ‘streaming wars’ but we’ve been competing with streamers (Amazon, YouTube, Hulu) as well as linear TV for over a decade. While the new competitors have some great titles (especially catalogue titles), none have the variety, diversity and quality of new original programming that we are producing around the world.”

DAZN has announced it’s to partner Snapchat to produce content around the sports streaming service’s biggest boxing events.

Sony has confirmed in a blog post that it’s shutting down PlayStation Vue – its OTT TV service in the US – on 30 January 2020. The company wants to focus on gaming rather than compete in what it described as “the highly competitive pay TV industry”.

Belden, the US manufacturer of broadcast hardware, is to sell Grass Valley, the company it acquired for $220 million in 2014. Grass Valley said it does not expect the announcement to disrupt its current operations and will “continue to focus on meeting the needs of customers, partners and employees”.

BBC News

Ofcom’s second annual report on the BBC has been published, covering April 2018 to March 2019. The regulator, which says it has “identified many of the same issues as last year”, lists some of its key findings as:

  • The BBC is reaching fewer people through each of its TV, radio and main online services but still plays a central role in audiences’ media and news consumption.
  • The BBC’s ability to attract, deliver to and retain younger audiences is at risk. For the first time, the average weekly reach of all BBC TV channels fell below 50% among 16-24-year-olds.
  • Netflix reaches almost two thirds of 15-24-year-olds each week and YouTube 42 per cent while the BBC iPlayer reaches just 26 per cent of this age group, down from 28 per cent in 2017.
  • Certain groups continue to be dissatisfied with how they are represented and portrayed by the BBC, and some audiences are turning away because they don’t see themselves on the BBC.
  • The BBC’s editorial complaints process lacks transparency.

The shift by younger viewers away from BBC services towards YouTube and the big OTT players is concerning MPs as well as Ofcom. The House of Commons digital, culture, media and sport select committee said in a report this month:

“As a result of rising costs and changing viewing habits, particularly amongst the under 34s who now spend on average more than twice as much time each day watching YouTube than they do BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4 and Channel 5 combined, there is a danger that the value of the licence fee will continue to diminish in the coming years.”

The report also states: “The government should set out proposals for how it can support (free licence fees for all of the over 75s) in the future.”

The BBC’s response is here.

Charlotte Moore, the BBC's Director of Content, has delivered a speech announcing that the corporation will “put iPlayer at the heart of everything we do”. A new-look, revamped version of the service will become available next year.

Another area of BBC output that has already been refreshed is the news. The “UK’s first interactive voice news service” means that listeners who use smart speakers can now skip ahead to content they want to hear.

And finally…

  • Matt Lucas and David Walliams will return to BBC Radio 4 for one-off special, Little Brexit. Little Britain was first broadcast on the station in 2000.
  • Channel 4 postponed its scheduled broadcast of Smuggled after 39 people were found dead inside a lorry in Essex. Promotional material for the two-part series said it would follow eight British citizens as they attempted to enter Britain from a variety of locations around continental Europe “without using their passport, evading Border Force authorities altogether”.
  • The first Broadcast Tech Innovation Awards were held this month. Honouring people, teamwork and projects, winners claimed prizes across 25 categories including Best Esports Production, Best Use of Remote Production, and Technical Innovation in a Sports Broadcast.
  • Sky and WarnerMedia have broadened their longstanding partnership to include new programming and co-production agreements.
  • HBO has ordered a prequel series to Game of Thrones. House of the Dragon will be set 300 years before events in the original show.