The BBC could be charged with trying to do too much too soon in relation to its online content and is now paying the price. Swingeing cuts will take place at the national broadcaster’s online division with 360 job losses, £34 million in budget cuts and a “reshaped” iPlayer the result.
The cuts were announced by the BBC today and will see up to half of all the corporation’s websites disappearing. Reducing the annual Online budget to £103 million by 2013 will mean a lot of changes to the broadcaster’s output and the popular iPlayer service will also see some changes. What exactly this will mean for the iPlayer is not fully known as of yet with the BBC today saying: “"The BBC iPlayer will be reshaped into a unified television offering, bringing together TV channels, programme information, and live and on-demand content. Selected archive content will be featured in TV & iPlayer and Radio & Music."
There had been speculation that iPlayer would become an aggregation site for other online on-demand content (4OD, ITV Player etc.) but this will not now happen, however it will link to other sites. Another idea that's been dashed is that of the BBC launching its own dedicated social networking site, and instead it will have to continue its extensive use of Twitter and Facebook. The iPlayer radio content will also disappear as a result of these cuts.
Other areas that will now not go ahead include a proposed online music service and music concerts that would have been streamed only online. The BBC will also no longer bid for online sports rights. While the iPlayer is one of the major successes of the online department, it is clear that BBC Online grew to quickly and too extensively to be manageable and profitable. While these cuts will be tough to take initially, in the long term it could be a good thing for BBC Online.