BBC and ITV cross streams to take on Net­flix

...but will this very Bri­tish slant on sub­scrip­tion TV ser­vices have the fire­power to com­pete with giants?

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NOT an­other stream­ing ser­vice? If you’ve al­ready lost count of the num­ber of TV stream­ing ser­vices you need to sign up for to be able to see all the big­gest and best new shows, look away now. More are on the way.

We have heard about Ap­ple TV+ and Dis­ney+, com­ing “this fall” (that’s au­tumn to you and me).

And we’ve al­ready got Net­flix, Ama­zon Prime, and Nowtv’s var­i­ous of­fer­ings.

Now, the BBC and ITV are get­ting in on the act with their very own com­bined ser­vice – Brit­box. And they signed on the dot­ted line this week to make it of­fi­cial. It’s com­ing by the end of the year.

Hang on a minute, you say – we al­ready have the BBC iplayer and the ITV Hub, and (li­cence fee not with­stand­ing), they’re free. Why should we pay more?

Well, Brit­box is dif­fer­ent. When it launches “in the fourth quar­ter of 2019” it’ll cost £5.99 a month. And it will pri­mar­ily have shows that have dropped off the iplayer and ITV Hub, or, as Brit­box put it, when they have “come out of their

broad­cast and catch-up win­dows”.

There will be a huge range of past clas­sic BBC and ITV se­ries from years gone by at launch – shows like Gavin And Stacey, Vic­to­ria, Broad­church and The Of­fice.

Plus there will be reg­u­lar up­dates to what’s on – shows will be added each week and the con­tent will be re­freshed reg­u­larly. The fo­cus, Brit­box says, will be on Bri­tish multi-se­ries drama boxsets. Some of the shows will only be on Brit­box.

And there’s more – Brit­box is also com­mis­sion­ing new shows that will only be avail­able to sub­scribers. These will come next year.

The dis­tri­bu­tion method is still be­ing dis­cussed with “part­ners”, but ex­pect to see a Brit­box app on all ma­jor plat­forms – mo­bile, tablet, smart TV and com­put­ers.

BBC Direc­tor Gen­eral Tony Hall said: “We have a world-beat­ing TV in­dus­try with out­stand­ing con­tent. The BBC and ITV are at the cen­tre of that. To­gether, we have been re­spon­si­ble for de­liv­er­ing the ma­jor­ity of ‘must-see’ mo­ments on Bri­tish TV over the last decade. That con­tent will now be on Brit­box.

“But this ser­vice isn’t just about the past. I am ex­cited about the new shows it will com­mis­sion. With a re­mit to be dar­ing and dif­fer­ent, many fu­ture clas­sics will be com­mis­sioned and live on Brit­box for the fu­ture.

“Im­por­tantly, these shows will be truly Bri­tish, show­cas­ing our cul­ture and telling dis­tinc­tive sto­ries.”

Carolyn Mc­call, CEO of ITV, says: “Sub­scrip­tion video on de­mand is in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar with con­sumers who love be­ing able to watch what they want when they want to watch it. They are also happy to pay for this ease of access to qual­ity con­tent and so Brit­box is tap­ping into this, and a new rev­enue stream for UK pub­lic ser­vice broad­cast­ers.”

The BBC and ITV ob­vi­ously be­lieve there’s a mar­ket for this. And it’s true that most ser­vices now fo­cus on Amer­i­can-made TV. This will be Bri­tish by name and na­ture.

I imag­ine they are right, but let’s be hon­est – Net­flix and Ama­zon have a pretty big head start.

Join­ing forces: BBC Direc­tor Gen­eral Tony Hall and ITV CEO Carolyn Mc­call

Brit­box will fea­ture ITV and BBC hits like Gavin And Stacey, Vic­to­ria and Broad­church

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