Why Robot Wars Failed #4: BBC Choice


This is an article explaining one of the reasons why Robot Wars failed near the start of the 21st Century. This article talks about Robot Wars’s relationship with the TV channel, BBC Choice that would have the biggest reason for Robot Wars leaving the BBC and leading to its failure afterwards.

BBC Choice was the BBC’s and the UK’s first only Digital TV channel and the channel would later become BBC Three. The channel launched around a year after the BBC News Channel and was an important channel in the history of BBC moving into the 21st Century. However, this didn’t help Robot Wars and would lead to its downfall.

Cutting the Audience

BBC choice would air new episodes of Robot Wars when ever available on weekday nights from Extreme I until Extreme II (including series 5 & series 6) when BBC choice was ended to be replaced by BBC Three. This meant that part of the audience were watching the show on BBC Choice three months in advance and another part watching on BBC 2. Obviously, die hard fans watched it when it on BBC Choice & on BBC 2 but, it definitely took a percentage of fans away from the audience on BBC 2. Also, this percentage would increase with BBC choice & digital TV becoming very popular at the time of 2001 – 2002.

Not only did it take this percentage but, when people who had already watched the Fifth wars on BBC choice decided to see new Robot Wars on BBC 2, they found out it was a re-runs of the Fifth Wars and this actually turned some people away from the show as, they didn’t seem to find any new episodes.

Casual Fans lose interest

Just after the Fifth Wars was airing on BBC 2, the Sixth Wars was starting airing on BBC Choice but, with little to no marketing meant, that nobody knew if they were new episodes or not and this wasn’t helped by the arena which, I spoke about here. This caused confusion and again, pushed more casual fans away from the show.

And this continued with the second series of Extreme airing on BBC Choice whilst the Sixth wars was airing leading, to more more confusion and this was exaggerated by BBC Choice changing into BBC Three just four weeks later with no Robot Wars ever shown on BBC Three.

Over Exposure

So, Robot Wars was shown over two channels with series clashing and with the same robots within Extreme I, Series 5, Series 6 & Extreme II being the highlights of a lot of episodes, it led to burnout of too much Robot Wars. I love Robot Wars but, the most die hard fans struggled to keep up with 60 episodes airing within 18 months over two different channels. This means that 120 episodes of Robot Wars aired over 18 months which, was too much if you wanted to watch it on both BBC Choice & BBC 2 and with the confusion I tried to explain above, this led to a huge amount of burnout and explained the huge drop in viewing figures.

With the drop in viewing figures from 6 million in Series 4 to, 2 million by the end of Series 6, the evidence above contributes to, why the show ended up being cancelled. A drop like that in TV terms around that time was bound to lead to the show leaving the BBC, especially when the expenses of the show were very high.

Tougher budgets hit BBC 1 & BBC 2 in 2003 with the creation of four new TV channels (CBBC, Cbeebies, BBC Four & BBC Three) all needing their money from somewhere & the BBC website needing more money every year. Robot Wars sadly left the BBC and its journey was only going to be a short one on TV without the BBC.

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