The BBC's plan to turn an online-only BBC Three into a new media brand

Even before it was announced BBC Three was being taken off the air and turned into an online-only property to cut costs, the BBC was using the channel to experiment with digital-first strategies, such as putting shows online prior to broadcasting them the traditional way. Other streaming-focused initiatives have followed, but the BBC has kept hush about the real future of BBC Three when it's yanked from the airwaves towards the end of next year. Today, however, the broadcaster has revealed the first details of its plan to move BBC Three online, and rather than simply turning it into a streaming-only affair, it wants to reinvent the channel as "a new online service" that "could be a pathfinder for the digital age and for the future of the BBC."

"Moving BBC Three online is a response to a financially challenging climate, but that's not all it is."

The BBC estimates that stripping BBC Three from the airwaves will save upwards of £50 million, some of which will be reinvested into the new online proposal, while the rest will be used to fund dramatic content for BBC One and improvements to iPlayer. And being one channel down, the broadcaster will be in the position to launch another: BBC One + 1. In addition to the new time-shifted channel, CBBC programming will be extended by two hours per day to keep the kids entertained that bit longer. "Moving BBC Three online is a response to a financially challenging climate, but that's not all it is." So says BBC Three Project Lead Damian Kavanagh, and if his vision for the future of BBC Three holds true, then he's certainly not wrong.

The vast majority of BBC Three's new budget -- 80 percent, in fact -- will go towards creating "long-form shows" like comedy series Bad Education, which will still air on the BBC's other channels, as well as being available online. The other 20 percent will be used to take BBC Three in a whole new digital direction exploring "new forms and formats, different durations, and more individualised and interactive content." Polls, blogs, short-form video and image-driven narratives are a few of the new mediums BBC Three will delve into, while keeping the content focused on news/current affairs and, of course, comedy.

The aim is to find "new ways to engage and entertain young audiences on their terms," and part of this will mean BBC Three having an online presence not restricted to iPlayer or the planned supersite that'll feature everything the brand has to offer. Social networks and other popular platforms will be used to showcase new content, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube, which'll also allow the audience to get involved in moulding the direction of BBC Three online.

The broadcaster's grand plan, if approved by the BBC Trust, is about far more than just moving BBC Three online, but an attempt to tap all the ways younger audiences are consuming digital media. The channel as we currently know it will cease to exist, but opens new opportunities to quickly turn around more reactive content, "freed from the restraints of the linear schedule."