It’s fair to say that some of us were a bit shocked when the BBC announced it was switching off BBC Three in favour of a new online-only form. What will happen to all those brand new comedy shows it keeps promising? And where will we watch our endless repeats of Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents?
But actually, it looks like the BBC might be onto something. Everything it's done so far for the new Three - besides the hideous pink logo - has been a good choice… and we think it just might be successful. Here's why.
1. Brits are big fans of on-demand TV
In fact, we're the most technologically advanced telly fans in the world, according to research - most of what we watch is through catch-up or on-demand portals. It makes sense, then, for the BBC to focus on web-based content, since that's apparently what we prefer.
Another study released this week revealed that kids in the UK spend more time online than they do watching TV, especially teens. They're going to enter the age bracket for BBC Three's demographic pretty soon, and the Beeb needs to be prepared. It's on the right track.
2. Idris Elba is involved
Need we say more?
Look at him smoulder.
All right, we will. Elba's production company, Green Door, has teamed up with BBC Drama to create a few short films for the new Three site. The idea is to showcase new talent and, well, you can't go wrong with anything the Luther star is involved with.
3. It knows what young people want
It's not just the format that's on point. Take a look at the kind of content BBC Three is promising and you'll see a real understanding of what young people enjoy. We're talking short form (everyone knows the digital generation have the world's shortest attention spans), involvement from YouTube stars, Doctor Who, a new show from a Skins writer… the list goes on.
Not only that, but things like serious documentaries and artsy films show a bit of respect for intellectual curiosity - an area where other similarly targeted channels seem to fall short. Compare, for instance, the upcoming BBC Three documentary about the new year's attacks in Cologne to The Boy Whose Bones Are Turning Into Carrots (or whatever medical issue E4 has decided to exploit this week).
4. It's planning a "huge social media push"
The only way the new BBC Three will take off is if people know what it's got to offer and head over there to watch it. So the BBC needs to advertise in a way that will reach those of us who are interested.
And it is! Reports of a "huge social media push" across all millennials' favourite apps will hopefully ensure that the right people are aware of the right stuff.
5. BBC Three programmes will still be on iPlayer
In other words, you won't have to do too much clicking around to find the new BBC Three shows - they'll still be right there on iPlayer in all its forms. Three will be as accessible as ever.
6. It can afford to take risks - and it already has
The only way to know if something is worth doing in the media world is to try it - but traditionally on TV, that means trying something at the expense of not trying something else. Your channel can only air one thing at a time, after all.
But that's not the case with online, non-linear formats. The BBC Three website has already streamed the League of Legends tournament, for example. It's something that's cheap to set up, but would take up a lot of broadcast time on a linear channel… which wasn't an issue online. The risk of showing esports could be taken at very little cost. Risks are what made BBC Three what it was - it took a chance on the likes of Little Britain and The Mighty Boosh, and it paid off.
Even Tony Hall, director general of the BBC, agrees with us here. "It is new and risky," he said, "but risky is the way it should be. If we don't take risks, then who will?"
Who will indeed.