BBC Three, the youth-oriented digital TV channel launched on February 9, has been proclaimed a success by the state-owned broadcaster after the fledgling notched a total audience of 16.3 million viewers in its first week.

They are said to have watched the new channel for fifteen minutes or more over the six days following its launch. However, only a small proportion (219,000) watched in homes receiving digital TV, the remainder viewing via ‘guest slots’ specially created on mainstream analogue channels BBC1 and BBC2.

BBC Three, which broadcasts daily between 7pm and 4am, targets men and women aged 25 to 34 who are influenced by youth culture. This specific targeting has triggered a tsunami of complaints from rival broadcasters such as E4, Sky One and ITV2, which argue it is outside the remit of the state-funded BBC to compete with existing commercial coverage of this market.

Says BBC Three controller Stuart Murphy loftily: “These figures show that there is an appetite in the marketplace for British-originated programming covering all subjects from entertainment and drama to news and current affairs.”

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff