Amid unfounded rumours that the BBC was planning on moving all children’s programming online, Director General Tony Hall has announced the creation of iPlay, a digital hub for kid-friendly content. The new service will allow children to personalise their viewing and listening to suit their own tastes, rather be pigeon-holed into CBeebies or CBBC strands, and will offer a choice of long-form shows, short content, podcasts and interactive tools, whilst providing a platform for them to vlog and create apps.
The content available will be taken from across the BBC, with traditional children’s programming being complemented by shows that usually appear after their bedtime, but which are also deemed safe for younger viewers. Examples put forward by Alice Webb, Director of BBC Children’s, include The Great British Bake Off and Match of the Day.
Dismissing rumours of the demise of CBeebies and CBBC on TV, Webb explained “In a recent survey, 86% of kids said (the television) was still their favourite screen to watch programmes. And 63% of children still watch programmes when they’re scheduled on TV,” before stating, “As long as kids and parents continue to watch our output on our TV channels, we’ll continue to put our programmes there.”
This certainly sounds like an exciting idea, with a common sense approach to understanding that programmes that children enjoy aren’t necessarily what is traditionally considered ‘children’s programming’. It also reflects that the youngest generation will consume media in a way that we will increasingly struggle to understand. The concept that you once only had an hour or so of kids viewing a day before Neighbours came on and that was it for the day, will seem unbelievable to our children.
As long as, whatever happens, there’s no option to download Justin from CBeebies’ party album, this could “revolutionise children’s television” as Tony Hall promises.