A new, paid-for streaming service will be launched by the end of the year by the BBC and ITV, in an attempt to rival Netflix.
With Netflix growing in popularity exponentially, other streaming services (and even regular TV) have been left behind. A new streaming service called BritBox will mainly feature archive BBC and ITV shows, as well as some British commissions created especially for the service. Unfortunately, the latest shows will not be available on the streaming service, but they will remain available on the catch-up BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub services. According to some past discussions, other broadcasters are due to join the service, including Channel 4.
Over the next two years, ITV has pledged to invest around £65 million in the joint venture, while BBC hasn’t commented on its investment amount yet.
The creation of this service means that British broadcasters might stop licensing their archive material to Netflix and other similar services in order to drive subscribers to the new UK service. As Carolyn McCall, the ITV chief executive explained, BritBox’s original content will focus entirely on the British audience.
Almost a decade ago a similar project called Project Kangaroo was blocked on competition grounds, which, as many in the British TV industry believe, allowed Netflix to dominate the market. However, this time round media regulator Ofcom welcomed the proposal because it wanted to see British broadcasters “collaborating to keep pace with global players, by offering quality UK content that’s available to viewers whenever and however they want to watch it”.
Already available in the US where it has 500,000 customers, BritBox will only be available to British subscribers. They will be able to watch it on holiday within the EU as well if the government strikes a trade deal with Brussels. The price hasn’t been released yet, but it has been described as “competitive”.