The BBC Trust approved the move Thursday; BBC Three is expected to end linear transmissions in February, allowing a transition period.
Damian Kavanagh said technology had changed what young people wanted and the changes would give the channel the chance to presents a schedule that fits with their lives.
“Today is just the beginning for BBC Three and our plans to transform our offer for young people. We have lots of new content coming in 2016 and exciting new ways of delivering it in development. We will now set about launching a digital first BBC Three in early 2016.”
However it’s dressed up the move to online only has been forced on the BBC, which will save £50 million by shutting down terrestrial and satellite distribution for one of the channels that were designed to encourage Britain to switch to digital television.
In a blog post Kavanagh was keen to dispell the myth that BBC Three was shutting altogether: “We will not be a scheduled 7pm to 4am linear broadcast TV channel but we will be everywhere else giving you the freedom to choose what to watch when you want.
“We will be available on BBC iPlayer on connected TV’s and via set top boxes and consoles like the PS4 so you can watch on a big TV with friends, if you want. We will be on mobiles and tablets so you can watch on your own in the bath, if you want. The truth is we will be available to you in more places than ever before including linear TV. All our shows will be on BBC One or BBC Two so you can watch on traditional TV, if you want.”
The BBC Trust approved plans to extend children’s channel CBBC to 9pm, and to develop iPlayer beyond a catchup service, to include online-first and third party content. But plans to launch a +1 hour service for BBC One were rejected on grounds of having limited public value.