What is BritBox?
BritBox is a paid-for video streaming service founded as a joint venture by the BBC and ITV. It is expected to launch by the end of this year, subject to regulatory approval, with ITV encouraging other public service broadcasters such as Channel 4 and Channel 5 to also join and share their programming. A different version already exists in North America.
How much will BritBox cost?
There has been no announcement on cost, although the BBC and ITV say it will be “competitively priced”. Services such as Netflix, Amazon Video, and Sky’s Now TV are priced at around £6-8/month. Given BritBox is being pitched as a supplementary subscription for households that already subscribe to a rival streaming service, it would be difficult to charge any more than these services.
What shows will be available on BritBox?
No announcements have been made but the focus will be on archive material that has previously been shown by BBC and ITV, so expect classic drama boxsets and popular sitcoms. BritBox will also commission some original programming but the service’s tiny budget compared with Netflix means there will only be a handful of standalone shows.
Will all future BBC and ITV content appear on BritBox?
New programmes broadcast by the BBC and ITV will continue to appear for free on the BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub catch-up services for a limited time. After this point you can expect many of them to then appear on BritBox and go behind a paywall.
Both broadcasters will honour their existing deals with streaming services to show archive shows, such as ITV’s deal with Netflix to show vintage Love Island. However, expect the broadcasters to move as much of their back catalogue as possible across to BritBox in an attempt to drive subscriptions.
Isn’t this all a bit late, given Netflix’s dominance of the market?
Twelve years ago the UK’s big public service broadcasters came together to plan a one-stop streaming service called Project Kangaroo, which would bring together all the major channels under one paid streaming service. The pioneering proposal could have revolutionised the British TV industry. Instead it was blocked by the Competition Commission, a decision which now looks horribly misguided and gave Netflix a free run at the UK market. This is the BBC and ITV playing catch-up in the face of falling viewing figures for traditional TV.
Why am I having to pay twice to watch BBC content?
A decade ago UK viewers would pay the BBC licence fee and then – if they really liked a show – buy the DVD from a high-street shop, essentially paying twice for the same content. With DVD sales in decline, BritBox is replicating the second part of this transaction. However, a generation of viewers who have grown up with streaming services may find it confusing that they have to pay £12.90 a month for the BBC licence fee and then an extra sum to watch the same BBC programmes after an arbitrary cut-off date.