BritBox: BBC and ITV confirm launch of Netflix rival
The BBC and ITV have announced they are in the "concluding phase" of talks to launch a paid-for streaming service in the UK.
A rival to the likes of Netflix and Amazon, BritBox - which has already launched in the US with 500,000 subscribers - will provide British box-sets and original series. The broadcasters said they anticipate other partners will be added and are due to speak with regulators about the proposal.
Channel 4 took part in past discussions, but has yet to confirm its involvement.
There are currently no details on pricing other than it will be "competitive", but the service is expected to launch in the second half of 2019.
Announcing the news on the same day ITV reported profits for 2018 were up 13% to £567m, CEO Carolyn McCall said: “I am really pleased that ITV and the BBC are at the concluding stage of discussions to launch a new streaming service.
“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."
It is not the first time a collaborative product between UK broadcasters has been mooted. A decade ago Project Kangaroo tried a similar venture but was blocked by regulators. That move was deemed short-sighted by many industry experts and allowed US services such as Netflix to move into the market unimpeded. This time around, Ofcom said it welcomed the proposal.
“I am delighted that the BBC and ITV are working together on something truly special - BritBox," said BBC director general, Tony Hall.
"A new streaming service delivering the best home grown content to the public who love it best. The service will have everything from old favourites to recent shows and brand new commissions. It’s an exciting time for the viewing public.”
BARB data shows that more households are taking multiple subscriptions - while the annual growth in homes with any SVOD service is 20%, the growth in homes with multiple services is 32% with 4 million homes now having more than one subscription.
Although the exact budgets for original content are unconfirmed, ITV has confirmed £25m for year one and £40m for year two. The BBC has yet to state how much it has contributed.
Netflix spent around £9bn on content last year.