Digital strategy example: What does the BBCs Digital Strategy look like from 2014 to 2017

digital strategy bbc ryan niccolls blogThis digital strategy example from The BBC was released online and as part of their annual report and accounts 2014/2015.

It is a couple of pages at least. These couple of pages have seen the end of BBC Three. 

Excerpt from the BBC digital strategypage>>>BBC – Strategy – BBC Trust

The Trust has agreed a set of long-term objectives for the BBC that will form the basis for the management’s quarterly reporting and for the Trust’s annual assessment of the Executive Board’s performance. Those objectives are to:


Those objectives are to:

  • Make the most creative and distinctive output;
  • Innovate online to create a more personal BBC;
  • Serve all audiences;
  • Improve value for money through a simpler, more efficient, and more open BBC.

In addition, the Trust has identified four specific areas that it considers to be priorities for immediate action.  As part of future reporting on overall performance, the Trust will expect the Executive to explain the action they are taking to address these priorities in order to demonstrate progress within the next year (or two years at the most).

These priorities are:

  • To improve the quality, variety and originality of new drama on BBC One (particularly in peak time).
  • To ensure firm control of overall headcount, including continued reductions in the number of senior managers.
  • To make tangible progress in reflecting better the diversity of the UK population in the BBC’s workforce and its output, in particular increasing the number of women on air.
  • To pursue more partnerships with other cultural and creative organisations across the UK.


Setting Digital strategy

Excerpt from BBC annual report 2014/2015 >>>…

The Trust agreed the BBC’s four overall objectives for 2014/15.

This section summarises our assessment of progress against those objectives, including the more specific priorities that the Trust identified at the start of the year.

Digital strategy: Quality and distinctiveness


Make the most creative and distinctive output. Specific priority „ To improve the quality, variety and originality of new drama on BBC One (particularly in peak time).


This has been an excellent year for BBC programmes and other content, with some particular successes in TV drama and comedy. In common with other public service broadcasters, there has been a dip in some of the audience appreciation scores for TV. However, more people now say ‘the BBC has lots of fresh and new ideas’, while 76{14eb6fcf2d1144d781067879d4a54ea28386d543f92f73ba070f8c6d7d586938} say that the BBC produces high-quality programmes and content across TV, radio and online. The BBC has delivered successfully against its specific priority, with a strong range of high-quality programmes on BBC One, such as Poldark, Happy Valley and The Missing. Nonetheless, the Trust will continue to push for ever greater creativity and distinctiveness.

Next steps

We will continue to track audience perceptions as to whether BBC TV is distinctive, including carrying out more research. We will continue to push for greater distinctiveness, particularly on mainstream services.

Digital strategy: Value for money


Improve value for money through a simpler, more efficient, and more open BBC.

Specific priorities

„To ensure firm control of overall headcount, including continued reductions in the number of senior managers. To pursue more partnerships with other cultural and creative organisations across the UK.


The BBC digital strategy continues to demonstrate a strong record in improving its efficiency and productivity, as the recent NAO report on the ‘Delivering Quality First’ savings programme showed. The majority of licence fee payers think that the BBC provides good value for money and the Trust’s review of talent costs showed significant progress in this area.

Many of the more challenging savings initiatives are yet to come, so more work is needed to hit the overall savings targets for the final years of the plan.

Steps have been taken to provide a clearer account of overall headcount, and targets are now also more clearly built into divisional budgets within the BBC. Further work in this area will be needed in order to achieve future efficiency targets.

Next steps

There will be increasing pressure on the BBC’s income and there is work to do to set the appropriate level of future efficiency ambitions as part of the Charter Review.

For the public, value for money is second only to impartiality when people are asked what is most important for the future BBC. The Trust’s job will be to test the BBC’s costs and savings plans over the coming year.

Digital strategy: Serving all audiences


Serve all audiences.

Specific priority

„To make tangible progress in reflecting better the diversity of the UK population in the BBC’s workforce and its output, in particular increasing the number of women on air.


This objective is becoming increasingly challenging as different audience groups become more diverse, not only in terms of culture and ethnic background, but also in their habits and expectations as technology provides a greater range of personalised choices to individual consumers. It is encouraging that the proportion of people who agree that the BBC provides programmes or content ‘for people like me’ has risen from 59{14eb6fcf2d1144d781067879d4a54ea28386d543f92f73ba070f8c6d7d586938} to 64{14eb6fcf2d1144d781067879d4a54ea28386d543f92f73ba070f8c6d7d586938}.

Nonetheless, the Trust is clear that the BBC must do all it can to stay relevant to all audiences across the UK. This is vital to the BBC’s long-term future as a universal service.

There is more to do to address existing disparities between the on-screen population and the actual population (particularly in terms of gender and ethnicity); in the amount of time that younger people spend with the BBC; and in audience perceptions as to whether the BBC fairly represents all the UK’s nations and regions, religions and ethnicities.

The Director-General and his team have shown laudable public ambition and commitment to change. The proportion of women at senior management level has risen this year and some progress has been made on staff diversity.

However, it has yet to feed through into change on air and in audience perceptions, and the specific priority has not yet been met.

Next steps

While we understand that this change will not happen overnight, we expect the Executive to continue to make it a priority to measure and improve performance in this area.

All the major UK broadcasters have jointly developed a new tool for monitoring on-screen diversity, which we will use over the course of the next year to measure progress and identify areas for further improvement.


Digital strategy: Innovating online


Innovate online to create a more personal BBC.

Specific priority

„ We did not set a specific priority for this objective – rather, we aimed to give the BBC a remit to innovate and enhance people’s personal connection with the BBC.


The Trust recognises the strong and clear focus of the BBC’s current strategy in this area.

Quality scores for online services are high but have declined slightly this year, and the number of people reached by those services remains flat, at around 50{14eb6fcf2d1144d781067879d4a54ea28386d543f92f73ba070f8c6d7d586938}.

The positive steps the BBC has made this year, including innovations such as the Radio 1 iPlayer channel (approved by the Trust) and new apps for CBBC and BBC News with a more personalised format, may help to increase the reach of online services. This is very important in ensuring the BBC retains its relevance to all licence fee payers.

Next steps

We will continue to monitor the reach of BBC online services. We look forward to receiving and considering the BBC’s plans for new ways to allow people to ‘sign-in’ for a different and more personalised experience.


Ryan Niccolls Digital Strategy Summary

In 2017 we have seen the reduction outlying services move from mainstream tv and radio to digital. Theses ‘younger’ channels have been moved to online where those audiences find them. The teens are online and so too are children on apps, mums as well.


Quality and distinctiveness,

Eastenders has been going for decades. It’s won many awards and continues to be a magnet to a large segment of the UK population. They also watch the Coronation Street, Emmerdale (1972 ) and Neighbours.


Value for money,

Is a licence agreement still feasible the UK in a digital age? Will it go the same way VHS rentals? There so are many ways to consume content Apple TV, Chrome cast, Sky, Netflix. Can you really say that? Based on direct, recurring and measured programming. Whereas the licence fees pays for everything used or not. There are discounts for the blind.


Innovating online,

The BBC Iplayer is an amazing leap of faith for the BBC. And why beat them when you can join them, you can now watch BBC programmes on Netflix too. When you compare what Netflix to the clunky BBC Iplayer it does seem a real contest. What if te BBC started to charge for Iplayer access. Would they be able to measure real consumption?

Serving all audiences

This is one of those ‘Reaching for the star’s statements’. We all know that this is really not possible. But it depends on what you call you an audience. The US loves the BBC as much as the UK.
What if we “serve all audiences on their appropriate channels?” Which is what seems to have happened. It has adopted the best of each segmented audience.

Digital Strategy Conclusion

The BBC has made some hard choices in relation to its global audience, hefty turnover for infrastructure, innovated within these boundaries and in some ways has adopted a lean approach, cutting costs by taking items off air and onto digital. It has continued to add value to its audience and fee payers by adopting a pay per view structure away from the UK. In my opinion, it seems like a top strategy.