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BBC Three: What’s happening?

It’s curtains for BBC Three as we know it, but what’s actually happening? Will it be sold? Will it disappear completely? 

Here’s the plain, unvarnished facts straight from the BBC itself. As more information comes to light we’ll update this feature accordingly to keep you posted. 

What’s happening to BBC Three?

BBC Three, as in BBC Three the TV channel that’s broadcast on digital terrestrial, satellite and cable TV, will be shut down at some point in the future. 

However, BBC Three isn’t ‘dying’ and it’s not being ‘scrapped’ – it’s just being moved away from TV. 

The channel will continue to exist as an online-only entity, somewhere on BBC iPlayer. 

This means that while the channel will dissapear from programme guides on your TV set, shows that would have otherwise been destined for BBC Three will be available to stream online. 

Additionally, the BBC says that some shows that would equally be at home on BBC One and BBC Two will be moved over to those channels too – although the BBC isn’t explicitly naming names just yet. 

When is BBC Three closing down?

The BBC hasn’t given an exact date for when it’ll start the online exodus and close down the BBC Three channel, other than ‘autumn 2015’. 

Before the big move happens, it’s likely that we’ll see more and more content landing on iPlayer first to get viewers used to the idea of streaming shows online instead of watching on TV. 

In fact, the BBC kind of has been doing this already, drip-feeding a series of online-exclusive pilots like Impractical Jokers and Nick Helm’s Heavy Entertainment

At this time, the transition to BBC Three as an online-only entity will be complete. It’s space on the airwaves will be taken up by BBC One+1 – a new timeshift channel that’ll give you another chance to catch BBC One shows

Take a long hard look at your EPGs kids: It’ll never look like this again

Why is the BBC replacing BBC Three with BBC One+1?

While BBC Three is mainly watched by younger audiences, the BBC argues that those same viewers tune into much of what’s shown on BBC One – EastEnders, Doctor Who, The Voice, Sherlock – and so giving everyone a chance to watch these shows again on a timeshift basis makes sense. 

Screw that, what’s happening to Family Guy?!

Controller of BBC Three Damian Kavanagh reveals in a blog post that “key popular existing programmes which are currently shown on BBC Three but not on BBC iPlayer will remain on other BBC television channels for the time being.”

Reading between the lines, we can assume that Family Guy and American Dad! might find second homes on BBC Two, although nothing’s been announced to confirm that yet. 

While Peter Griffin, Stan Smith and the gang will probably have a home at the BBC, they could equally jump ship and maybe even end up on Channel 4, now home to The Simpsons, which was previously a BBC Two staple. 

As is the case now, you won’t be able to watch Family Guy on BBC iPlayer. If you’ve got Netflix you can get episodes of Family Guy and American Dad! provided you’re wise to the ways of getting around the US content lock

What if I can’t get BBC Three online-only content because my Internet service is too slow? 

That’s a good question and one we’ve asked the BBC in the past. So far we’ve not had a response from the BBC so it’s impossible for us to say for sure if there’s a contingency plan in place. It’s looking unlikely. 

The BBC could have held off shutting down BBC Three for good until everyone in the UK is able to access a broadband package capable of providing at least 2Mbps – the minimum amount of bandwidth needed for iPlayer to work. 

BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK), a UK Government project, aims to make sure that everyone can accessing a basic 2Mbps service by 2017 – unluckily for those in the boondocks who still can’t get above 1Mbps, you’re looking at spending a few years in a digital gulag before you’ll be able to watch the expected eleventh and twelfth series of Don’t Tell The Bride


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