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BBC prioritising live video in News app to take on Facebook and Youtube as it looks to win over younger audience

By Freddy Mayhew

The BBC is prioritising live video content on its mobile News app to challenge market leaders Facebook and Youtube as it looks to appeal to a younger audience, the corporation has revealed.

It is also working with Facebook on reducing the impact of “fake news” while expanding its Reality Check fact-checking service and investing in data and journalism teams.

The commitments have been made under the BBC’s Annual Plan, published today, which sets out the corporation’s creative and work plans for the current year which runs to the end of March 2018.

This is the first Annual Plan to be released under the BBC’s new 11-year charter, which began in January. The “period of transition” to the new charter is given as the reason why the plan has been released mid-year as opposed to before the year’s start, as is usual.

“The power of live and video is critical in driving engagement and usage,” the BBC said.

“We will prioritise live video programming within the News app.

“Live video functionality on third-party platforms like Facebook and YouTube continues to lead the market – we need to offer our own natively mobile live content on our platforms as well as using social platforms to reach out to targeted audiences, including women and the young and show them that we are relevant to their lives.”

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In the report, the BBC said its goal for mobile and online is to “redress the BBC News audience balance – finding ways to remain relevant and serve more women, younger people and those on lower incomes”.

Proposals include developing more personalised notifications from the BBC News app, which has more than 14m adult users each week, and piloting a “digital first” approach across News in “key topic areas such as health and environment”.

It said: “Over the coming year our focus will be on developing an increasingly personalised, mobile-first proposition featuring short-form journalism and visual storytelling (using video, graphics and data), alongside offering a broader range of live event coverage and participatory experiences.

“These changes will help engage all audiences, but in particular will deepen the relationship with younger audiences.”

The BBC also revealed it is building an “Expert Network of independent think-tanks, academics and experts from around the world” with plans to “use their expertise to bring insights and analysis which complements our own”.

It added: “This will allow us to bring long-term, deeper understanding of global trends and themes to our audience. This ‘slow news’ output will benefit all audiences, but will initially be distributed via mobile and online.”

It said it wanted to use so-called “slow news” content is to “help people understand the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’” and announced plans to build on BBC Stories, launched late last year, which showcases the best of the corporations news and factual storytelling.

Other commitments outlined in the Annual Plan for 2017/18 include:

  • A refreshed focus on news from all the UK’s Nations and regions in the evenings
  • Developing on-screen presentation through the development of augmented reality graphics and further enhancements to on-screen information
  • Keeping investigative journalism at the heart of Current Affairs, with Panorama remaining the home of investigative journalism on BBC One
  • Building data and journalism teams to strengthen the BBC’s capability for interrogation of data, facts and presentation
  • Reality Check will be expanded and will fact-check the most popular outliers on social media and refute claims if they are found to be false
  • Working with Facebook on how we can be most effective at building trust and reducing the impact of ‘fake news’
  • BBC One continuing to broadcast more news in peak time than any other comparable channel.

BBC Chairman Sir David Clementi said: “This Annual Plan outlines how we will strengthen the core values of public service broadcasting for all audiences – first and foremost through the brilliant year of programmes and services that it describes.

“And it offers a framework against which the Board will be able to assess the performance of the BBC and monitor progress. We are united as a Board in implementing these plans with one voice.”

Read the full BBC Annual Plan 2017/18.

Picture: Reuters/Paul Hackett

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