The BBC, which currently relies on advertising and licensing to fund its English language Global News service via the BBC World News channel and BBC.com, has suggested it is considering moving to a direct-to-consumer subscription model.
The UK public broadcaster outlined its thinking in a 39-page financial report, entitled BBC Value for Audiences, which detailed the progress it has made with its extensive cost-saving programme and the various challenges the corporation faces.
Background and rationale for change
As reported by Press Gazette, the BBC said its global news service is under pressure from “changes in the way people access news and downward pressure on global advertising revenues”.
Even though BBC Global News has been consistently profitable for the last five years, generating annual revenues of around £115m, pressure on its financial model has been exacerbated by the pandemic amid a worldwide advertising slowdown and keyword-blocking of coronavirus-related stories.
The BBC said that this “has had a dramatic impact on the ability to generate income in 2020 despite demand being higher than ever before”.
BBC Global News is also facing increased competition from rival English language news channels that have been launched by large countries like Russia and China.
“Some news providers have begun to have significant success through a direct to consumer subscription model. We will continue to consider how GNL [Global News Ltd] can best operate in the market to ensure long-term commercial success in the face of current global news market challenges” – BBC Value for Audiences report.