Given Netflix’s success in the past few years, with the company having taken home its first Academy Award on Sunday, it’s no surprise that content providers are clamouring to launch their own streaming service. Disney’s streaming service is expected to launch later this year, while Apple is also reportedly working on its own Netflix competitor. Not to miss out on all the fun, the BBC and ITV have announced a joint partnership to launch a new ‘made in Britain’ streaming service for British viewers, and it’s called BritBox.
If the BritBox name sounds familiar, then that’s because it is. The streaming service is already available to those in the US and Canada, and essentially offers the best of British TV in boxset form. That means those in the US and Canada have been able to binge the entire back catalogue of Poirot and Luther, along with a whole host of other shows, all for a $7-a-month subscription fee. Now the two broadcasters want to bring that service to the UK, with an aim to launch the service as early as the back half of 2019; provided regulators approve the move.
Both the BBC and ITV already have an existing relationship with Netflix, although BritBox goes much further than the licensed shows available to Netflix users. Both broadcasters have 50 years worth of content to pull from, and BritBox takes advantage of pretty much all of it – whether it’s Blackadder or Casualty. It’s not known whether the launch of its own streaming service will affect existing relationships with Amazon or Netflix, however; the latter of which is already contending with Disney and other content providers pulling their content in favour of their own streaming services.
BritBox won’t solely be focused on old content, however. The service is also expected to launch several original programmes; a strategy that is being replicated across the industry, with Netflix, Disney and Amazon all promising more original content for their respective streaming services in the future.
If BritBox does launch in the UK, it’s expected to be made available on a variety of platforms. In the US the service can be watched on the web, Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV (4th Generation or Airplay to older models), iPhone, iPad, and Android devices, and it’s likely that the same devices will be supported. Unlike Netflix, BritBox isn’t available on smart TVs, although those purchasing the subscription through Amazon Channels are able to take advantage of the Amazon Video app on those platforms.
The BBC and ITV will face stiff competition in the UK, with it largely trading on nostalgia in order to nab subscribers. Both companies already offer streaming platforms that are popular and free, and it’s yet to be seen whether the two can make the new originals enticing enough for people to join the service for that reason alone. The service has already seen half a million subscribers in the US and Canada – but that’s to an audience who hasn’t been spoilt by BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub.