ITV and the BBC have agreed to launch the streaming subscription service BritBox charging £5.99 a month when launches between October and December.
Watchdog Ofcom today gave the plan its provisional approval after concluding that the publicly funded BBC’s involvement is unlikely to give BritBox an unfair competitive advantage.
It is intended to provide box sets of recently broadcast shows as well as older favourites which will be included after licences with other on-demand broadcasters end. Original series will also be commissioned exclusively for BritBox.
ITV CEO Carolyn McCall said: “The agreement to launch BritBox is a milestone moment. 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.
“ITV and BBC have made, and continue to make, the programmes that both reflect and shape British culture and creativity. We now look forward to working together to launch the largest collection of British boxsets ever – bringing the very best in past, present and future British programming and award-winning content to viewers all in one place.”
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 must-see content will now be on BritBox.
“But this service isn’t just about the past. I am really 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. These are exciting times for people who love quality TV. Importantly, these shows will be truly British, showcasing our culture and telling distinctive stories. It’s what makes real British TV so special.”
Market research consultancy FutureSource said Britbox would need fewer than one million subscribers to become the fourth biggest behind Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Now TV.
Its principal analyst David Sidebottom said: “Key to success will be differentiation against their existing broadcaster VoD/catch-up TV services and how it educates potential subscribers of these differences.
“An obvious differentiator is the vast content libraries both the BBC and ITV can make available on the service. But with BBC’s decision to extend content availability on iPlayer for up to 12 months after original broadcast, it will mean it can’t rely on newer BBC content to bolster Britbox’s proposition.
“The launch of the service is expected to eventually lead to the dilution of BBC and ITV title availability on leading SVoD platforms. This further justifies these leading SVoD services’ increased investment in original programming.
“New original content will also be produced, for exclusive release on Britbox from 2020, but both companies will be mindful of the fine balance between providing added value to this subscription service, the performance of existing offerings, while appeasing license fee payers.”