The BBC and ITV are teaming up to launch a new subscription service in the USA.
Earlier this year, we reported that a partnership between the two UK broadcasters was rumoured to be on the way, as they seek to rival Netflix with their own SVOD platform. Now, the Beeb and its commercial competitor have confirmed that the British telly powerhouses will unite to create BritBox.
The ad-free subscription site will launch in Q1 2017, featuring “the very best of British TV” and offer the most comprehensive SVOD collection of British content in the American market.
Shows such as New Blood, from Anthony Horowitz, Tutankhamun, The Moonstone, and In The Dark, from BAFTA award-winning writer Danny Brocklehurst (Ordinary Lies), will all premiere exclusively on the service, alongside the debut of the recent Cold Feet revival and Silent Witness.
A selection of soaps and series will also be available as soon as 24 hours after their UK broadcast, including Eastenders, Emmerdale and Holby City.
Classics will also be catered for, from Brideshead Revisited and Pride and Prejudice to Upstairs Downstairs, State of Play and Inspector Morse, not to mention comedies such as Keeping Up Appearances and Fawlty Towers.
“The BBC and ITV are the two most prolific content producers and broadcasters in British television – both known for their unrivaled, ground-breaking shows,” says Ann Sarnoff, President, BBC Worldwide North America. “BritBox will offer a streaming experience like no other, with thousands of hours of programs across a wide variety of genres – some of which will be available right after their UK broadcast. This will be a must-have service for lovers of British television.”
Simon Pitts, ITV Managing Director of Online, Pay TV and Interactive adds: “Britain produces some of the best television in the world and we’re delighted to be bringing the creative might of the BBC and ITV together for the first time in this exciting new streaming service for U.S. fans. BritBox will be the best and most comprehensive British streaming service in the U.S.; a rich catalogue of classic, new, and exclusive shows easily accessible to U.S. viewers all in one place. ITV is now a global production and distribution business and this marks the first step in our international ambitions for BritBox.”
Indeed, there have been rumours that the BBC and ITV also plan to launch a similar subscription platform in the UK, as part of the BBC’s ongoing efforts to explore new revenues of income, as its budgets are cut. (BBC Worldwide and ITV share an equal majority stake in the joint venture. AMC Networks, which has a joint venture with BBC Worldwide for cable channel BBC America, also has a non-voting minority interest.) Both broadcasters say there is ambition to roll out the service in other international markets, although whether this will pave the way for a UK launch is not yet clear. ITV, meanwhile, has just launched a separate subscription service through its on-demand platform, ITV Hub+, which includes the ability to download shows offline and watch things without adverts.