The return of BBC Three as a linear channel is one of the biggest u-turns ever made by the corporation.
Nobody ever likes to admit a significant decision was wrong. Admitting that it was a mistake to axe a programme or make a significant change which proved unpopular is rare enough in broadcasting.
So to accept a major strategic change was misguided is quite something.
It would simply have been too humiliating for this to have happened without a change of director-general.
The irony is that online viewing and catch-up services continue to grow in popularity while a number of other linear channels have closed in recent years.
However clearly the corporation now gets the importance of encouraging younger audiences to watch a linear channel too.
So what of the practicalities?
Will a rebrand for BBC Three be forthcoming now a full presentation package is needed? And will the late-evening screenings of BBC Three programmes on BBC One now end?
The strategic reasons for showing these programmes on a linear channel are clear. But they could seem misjudged on BBC One immediately after the BBC News at Ten.
Does this mean the extension to the Ten and the late regional bulletins at the start of the Covid crisis – which restored them to their former length – will now become permanent?
In retrospect, axing BBC Three and then dealing with the consequences is a mess which should never have happened. To justify a universal licence fee, the BBC needs to attempt to reach as many people as possible.
That means a range of services – not suddenly turning one service over to a different section of the audience.
The challenge of marketing and branding the new BBC Three will be an exciting one.
Meanwhile BBC One can hopefully serve its traditional audience better in the late-evening even if there may not be many original commissions.
The late-night BBC Three shows did nothing to deal with claims the corporation didn’t care sufficiently for its core audience. Of course, that was not its intention but perceptions matter.
All in all – this is win win.
PICTURED: BBC Three on BBC iPlayer. COPYRIGHT: BBC.
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