BBC’s classical archive goes online in battle with streaming giants
THE BBC is putting its classical music archive online, the director general is expected to announce this week, as the corporation fights competition from streaming services.
Performances from BBC orchestras and choirs, as well as the Proms and the Young Musician competition, will be available on iPlayer and a new audio app called BBC Sounds.
The move is part of a year-long sea- son on BBC Four, BBC Two, Radio 3 and online looking at 100 years of classical music in Britain.
At a launch event for the season on Thursday, Lord Tony Hall, the directorgeneral of the corporation, will say: “In an age of ever-growing platforms and social media sharing, these historic and recent performances will be returned to the public as their rightful property.
“In time, you will also be able to find them by using voice activation technology to make your own journey through classical music.” A BBC insider said: “Recording, creating, broadcasting and documenting great classical works is one of the things the BBC does that other broadcasters just don’t do on this scale, and the public owns these recordings by virtue of the licence fee.”
Lord Hall last month used a speech at the Royal Television Society to call for a level playing field between public service broadcasters and the likes of Netflix and Amazon. He said the BBC was fighting Netflix and Amazon with “one hand tied behind its back”. Studies have shown Netflix is spending $8billion (£6.1bn) a year on content, Amazon is spending $5billion and Britain’s pub- lic service broadcasters combined, including the BBC and Channel 4, are spending £2.5billion.
Lord Hall is expected to warn attendees at Thursday’s event that, unless additional resources are found, there will be tough choices ahead for the BBC as what it currently does is unsustainable.
The director-general urged caution last year regarding the threat from ondemand global giants such as Amazon.
The BBC now appears to be in a battle to hold onto its flagship drama, Bod- yguard, after Netflix took an interest by acquiring the international rights for the series.
Meanwhile, Lord Hall has been praised for his work to change the gender imbalance at the BBC. On Wednesday, Zoe Ball was named as the first female host of the Radio 2 Breakfast Show, replacing Chris Evans.
Lord Hall will soon have to oversee the search for replacements for David Dimbleby and Eddie Mair who will appeal to a wider and younger audience.