BBC Launches New Short-Form Content Hub ‘Reel’

The BBC today launched a new global hub for short-form content, BBC Reel. The platform has been created by BBC Global News, an independent branch of the broadcaster supported by commercial revenue, and will feature a mix of recycled archive videos and newly commissioned content.

Reel organises short videos, usually less than ten minutes in length, into themed playlists. The playlists generally contain between three and five videos, and so far seem to be focussed on science and culture. Playlists available at launch include ‘Debunked’, which contains videos disputing popular myths, and ‘World’s Strangest Museums’, which pretty much does what it says on the tin. A new playlist will be published every weekday, according to a statement from the BBC.

Reel is housed in two places – on the BBC’s own website at, and on a BBC Reel YouTube channel. At the time of writing, the two hubs host different sets of playlists. The BBC Reel website currently has 12 playlists available while the YouTube channel only has two, one of which isn’t yet available on the Reel website. It’s unclear whether this is part of an intentional strategy to publish different playlists across the two platforms, or if the two will be in sync in the long term.

Both the Reel Website and Reel videos on YouTube ran pre-roll video ads when VAN accessed them from a US server, but neither appear to run ads when accessed from the UK.

The service in part acts as a way for the broadcaster to monetise old archive content, with videos being drawn from brands including BBC Travel, BBC Future, BBC Culture and BBC Capital. However original content has also been commissioned for the service, and the BBC claims it has already commissioned dozens of original videos from more than 50 filmmakers located across 40 countries.

“The strength of BBC videos are their ability to bring the viewer right into the lives of people around the globe,” said Melissa Hogenboom, editor of BBC Reel. “The BBC’s truly global network of correspondents connects viewers to a staggeringly wide range of lived experience, weaving us together in a way that’s uniquely possible through the visually arresting power of video.”

The BBC has already found some success with republishing content online, with the broadcaster claiming to reach 5.1 million global viewers every week via its existing YouTube channels.

Subscribe to Weekly VAN Newsletter