BBC Director General: TV industry about to enter 'second wave of disruption'

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BBC Director General Tony Hall believes the television industry is about to enter “a second wave of disruption” because of new entrants to the streaming market.

In a speech to the Royal Television Society convention in Cambridge on Thursday, Lord Hall will say that the changes to the market offer an opportunity for the BBC and that people would still choose it for “ethical reasons”.

“Our industry is about to enter a second wave of disruption,” he will say. “The first was about the rise of Netflix, Amazon and Spotify: market shapers that fundamentally changed audience behaviour, often at the cost of huge losses or massive cross-subsidy.

“The second wave will see a range of new entrants entering an already crowded market. We saw it last week as Apple announced their new subscription service. Disney, Hulu and others are to follow. This is, of course, great for audiences. Possibly.”

He will predict that the libraries of Amazon and Netflix are “likely to shrink, as programme-makers pull their content away from these services to place them on their own”, adding, “the established streamers will need to fight harder to offer the value they currently give today.”

“In this market, services that are distinctive and different will stand out,” Hall will say. “And two vital things make us (the BBC) different. Firstly, we have a unique mission and purpose. All audiences – young and old – believe in it.

“Purpose and values matter today more than ever, as people pick and choose services for ethical reasons as much as economic ones. Secondly, no one offers the range of content, in so many genres, on so many platforms, as the BBC.

“We’re not Netflix, we’re not Spotify. We’re not Apple News. We’re so much more than all of them put together. In the space of a year iPlayer’s reach to young audiences is up by a third.

“There is really promising growth right across the piece. And that’s before we roll out our full plans for extended availability and exclusive content.”

The Royal Television Society convention takes place in Cambridge from September 18 to 20.