Netflix is raiding the BBC’s most brilliant asset

The BBC has announced three new major nature programmes, fronted by the voice of Earth himself, David Attenborough.

But, according to the Guardian, the corporation (for which I work) should be worried. Its unmatchable history in this genre has made it prey to a younger, wealthier beast:

The announcement comes after senior staff left the BBC’s Natural History Unit, lured to the commercial sector by the prospect of working for rapidly-growing streaming services, which can offer bigger budgets.

Soon, Netflix will be airing One Planet, a nature documentary voiced by David Attenborough and produced by “former staff” from the BBC’s Natural History Unit:

The Blue Planet II creator, James Honeyborne, left the Natural History Unit last month after almost 30 years to found an independent production company, which instantly signed a deal with Netflix to produce nature and science series.

The shift of this expertise from a public broadcaster to the commercial sector is sad. This programming shouldn’t be accessible only to those with a Netflix account, particularly if it’s to have its goal of influencing how we appreciate and treat our world.

I believe David Attenborough is passionate about the true power of public broadcasting, and for that reason I hope he continues to work with the BBC. That said, he clearly cares deeply about quickly getting out his message about a global crisis. And so, if he were to leave, none of us should blame him for it.