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?
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.
■ Get updates on BritBox by signing up at BritBox.co.uk
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