BritBox: BBC and ITV announce new Netflix rival streaming service

A version of BritBox already exists in the US

Jack Shepherd
Wednesday 27 February 2019 09:42
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BritBox
BritBox

The BBC and ITV have confirmed that plans are underway for a joint UK streaming service.

The two broadcasters are “in the concluding phase” of talks with regards launching the service, which will be called BritBox.

Others, such as Channel 4 and Channel 5, are expected to join the service, which aims to put British releases in one place and will potentially act as a rival to Netflix and Amazon Prime.

The BBC and ITV said that BritBox will boast the biggest collection of British content on any streaming service. They added that alongside “old favourites” and recent shows, there will be new commissions produced specifically for BritBox.

There has been no confirmation as to which programmes we can expect on the service.

ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall said: “BritBox will be the home for the best of British creativity – celebrating the best of the past, the best of today and investing in new British-originated content in the future.”

BBC director general Tony Hall said it would be “a new streaming service delivering the best home-grown content to the public who love it best ... It’s an exciting time for the viewing public.”

The move marks further collaboration between the two rivals. Last year, ITV produced the series Bodyguard, which ended up being released by the BBC. They have also worked together on a US version of BritBox, a subscription to which costs $6.99 (£5.26). The broadcasters said they have enjoyed success with the US version, which has surpassed half a million subscribers.

Little else is known about the UK version of BritBox, which will launch in the second half of this year. Whether BBC-produced shows will leave Netflix – which currently hosts seasons of Peaky Blinders, Sherlock and Luther – remains to be seen.

The BBC last year admitted it was struggling to keep hold of younger audiences, with more people turning to subscription services than ever before. Reports emerged that 16- to 24-year-olds spent more time watching Netflix than all BBC TV services together, including iPlayer. At the time, a spokesperson said it was looking to change the structure of iPlayer.

“As the trend shifts towards on-demand viewing, the BBC risks being overtaken by competitors,” the BBC said at the time. “Maintaining the reach and time that audiences spend with our output is … difficult when they have so many other choices at their disposal. This challenge is most acute for young audiences.”

ITV likewise reported difficulties combatting the rise of Netflix. Reports first suggested in July 2018 that it was considering working with the BBC and Channel 4 to create a new streaming service.

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