BritBox: Everything you need to know about BBC and ITV's Netflix slayer
From how much it will cost to what shows it will stream, here's everything to know about BBC, ITV's joint streaming service to be launched in second half of 2019
With Disney set to launch its own streaming platform in the United States later this year, it seems like ITV and BBC want to try their hand at a similar Video on Demand service across the pond in the UK.
Called BritBox, the two network giants want to make it the home for all British made content under a single subscription. Here's everything you need to know about this exciting new venture.
What is BritBox?
This UK platform may be different than the one that is already live in the US and Canada. You will be able to watch both archive programmes and fresh commissions, but the latest shows on BBC and ITV will still only be available on BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub. You may also get content from both Channel 4 and Channel 5, which are reportedly also in talks to share content on the platform.
The existing BritBox in North America is a partnership between ITV, BBC and AMC Networks -- the BBC's partner on its domestic cable channel BBC America - although AMC only has a minor stake.
It was launched almost two years ago, and grew considerably in just a year. As of 2018, BritBox's subscriber base was said to be of 250,000. It currently has 500,000 subscribers in the US and Canada. By contrast, Netflix has 139 million subscribers globally.
What shows will be on the platform?
"BritBox will be the home for the best of British creativity — celebrating the best of the past, the best of today and investing in new British originated content in the future," ITV CEO Carolyn McCall said in a statement on Wednesday, while announcing that they are wrapping up final discussions with BBC for the service.
It is unclear as of now how many shows would be made available on the platform, but if it's to rival Netflix, it will definitely have to be heavy on content.
You'll get to watch classics that aren't on TV anymore like 'Absolutely Fabulous', 'Blackadder' and you'll get to binge on 'Vera' and the like.
With BBC and ITV giving a home to their own content, Netflix may just find itself in a spot with its British shows gone. But, McCall did clarify that the existing contracts would be upheld, for now. "We will clearly honor any content rights deals that we have currently in existence. It is obvious really to assume that ITV content that has been commissioned by the network will end up at some point on BritBox."
This appears to be a similar situation as was with Disney and Netflix, when earlier this year, the networking giant appeared to pull out its shows from the streaming platform.
When can you watch it and how much will it cost?
Plans are to launch the service in the second half of 2019. The cost of a basic subscription is still being decided, but there's a chance that it will be cheaper than Netflix. As of now, Netflix costs £7.99 per month in the UK for an HD subscription and can be watched on two devices at a time in this package. For£9.99 a month, you get the possibility of watching in Ultra HD where available, plus four screens at a time. After a one month free trial, Netflix users are automatically switched to the £7.99 per month package. It is being speculated that BritBox will cost about £5.
ITV plans to invest up to 25 million pounds ($33 million) in BritBox this year and about 40 million pounds in 2020. BBC hasn't disclosed the amount it will be investing.
How will it affect Netflix?
BritBox's main agenda is to rival Netflix, but it may not be as easy as it sounds. Netflix already has a very successful content strategy in place and has a headstart on subscribers in the UK. The Guardian reported in December 2018 that Netflix UK was set to hit 9.78 million subscribers, surpassing Sky TV's 9.64 million subscriber strength.
But, BBC and ITV have an advantage when it comes to content. Netflix's most revered shows like 'Luther', 'Bodyguard', 'Peaky Blinders', 'Sherlock' among others are from these two British players; so in a scenario with these shows gone, it will definitely take a hard hit.
There's also a chance that PBS could go on to lend its content to BritBox since BBC and PBS have a tie up. Also, an SVOD like the proposed BritBox does not exist in the UK yet - so that could play to its advantage.
However, in terms of money, ITV's contribution to BritBox is very little in comparison to how much Netflix lavished on its original content until last year - a whopping £9 billion.