BBC director general Tony Hall says the corporation is planning to “reinvent” the iPlayer.

Hall made his comment in a speech today in Birmingham, his first major speech since the new BBC Charter took effect.

Hall said the BBC iPlayer was the biggest revolution of the last Charter.

“Now we need it to make the leap from a catch-up service to a must-visit destination in its own right. Our goal, even in the face of rapid growth by our competitors, is for iPlayer to be the number one online TV service in the UK. “

Hall said the BBC iPlayer has around three million active signed-in users. “I want to make that 20 million. And I want us to get there as quickly as possible.”

Hall said that changing viewing patterns, particularly of younger audiences, are behind the decision to prioritise the iPlayer. “Adults spend eight percent of their media time on social media and messaging. For 16-24 year-olds, it’s 25 percent. Across the whole of the TV market, time spent with young audiences has fallen by 20 to 30 percent.”

Hall added that he wants the BBC to examine what big technological changes – such as voice recognition, and virtual reality – mean for the corporation. “How can we push boundaries, do new things, in the way that we have done so well with new developments in the past.”

Hall also used his speech to emphasise that the BBC is now operating in a media landscape has changed beyond recognition. “It is hugely more global and more competitive. We’re now in an environment where Amazon, Netflix, and others are willing to invest huge amounts of money with no certain return in an attempt to capture market share where Facebook is looking at commissioning its own TV programmes, and Twitter is buying up sports rights and where moves such as the Fox-Sky merger are making the very biggest players even bigger.”

He said the BBC needs to be much more ambitious globally, stressing the importance of BBC Studios in “securing our future as one of the very best programme-makers in the world.”

“In both radio and television, we need to own intellectual property rights for the future. I don’t want us ever to become a publisher-broadcaster.”

Staff Reporter

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