BBC and ITV team up to take on Netflix

Plucky Brits take on global streaming giants

by Andy Bassett Feb 27, 2019 at 8:47 AM

  • Broadcasters BBC and ITV have confirmed plans to create a joint streaming venture to compete with global giants such as Netflix and Amazon.
    Reportedly, talks between the two, once rival, broadcasters are in the final stages and the aim is to launch the service in the second half of 2019.

    Dubbed ‘Britbox’, the service will see an expansion of the current ‘Best of British’ subscription model rolled out to the US in 2017 and serve as a repository for boxsets and classic shows from both broadcasters, while also featuring newly commissioned projects.

    Currently, ‘BritBox’ has about 500,000 subscribers compared to Netflix’s US subscription base of 60 million.

    Both the BBC and ITV have had notable successes in recent times, with the BBC’s ‘Bodyguard’ drama and ITV’s ‘Downton Abbey’ and ‘Love Island’ standing out. It’s ‘Britishness’ of these successes that will form the basis of the service.

    ITV has just reported an increase in profits of 13% for a 2018 total of £567m. Nonetheless, chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall pointed out it was an "uncertain economic and political environment" and she went on to describe ".. a window of opportunity..." to take advantage of the public’s acceptance of the streaming approach to broadcasting.

    ITV has committed to £65m of investment in the venture over the next 2 years.

    Both the BBC and ITV are keen to point out that iPlayer and the ITV Hub catch up service will not be replaced and that the new service will create a permanent archive for beloved programmes to be watched ‘anytime, anywhere.’

    Price tiers for the service have yet to be confirmed but a monthly fee of £5 has been reported.

    BBC Director-General Tony Hall commented that the streaming service would be "truly special". He went on to say it would be, "A new streaming service delivering the best home-grown content to the public who love it best."

    For a certain generation, the rivalry between the licence-based BBC and the advertising-funded ITV network defined its viewing experience. Snipes were frequently taken by both sides with ITV perceived as ‘low brow’ due to its broad comedies and imported US shows - something the BBC was also guilty of but seemed to be able to sidestep.

    That perception has largely waned in the face of a rapidly changing broadcast environment and the rivalry has been well and truly buried with this announcement. Pricing is also rumoured to be £5 a month for the service.

    Has the streaming frenzy gone too far or will this provide a required service viewers are asking for? Let us know in the discussion thread.

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