BBC & ITV to launch Netflix rival, but it won’t be free
The BBC and ITV have I confirmed plans to launch a joint TV-streaming service to rival Netflix by the end of the year. Called BritBox, it will mostly contain old shows, plus some new programmes made exclusively for the service.
It won’t have the latest shows, which will remain available on BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub. The service won’t be included as part of the TV Licence, so you’ll have to pay to watch shows. Pricing hasn’t been confirmed, but the broadcasters said it will be “competitive’.
Sources close to the project say it could cost £5 a month, slightly cheaper than Netflix’s ‘Basic’ one-device package, which costs £5.99.
ITV said it will spend £65m on BritBox over the next two years. The BBC hasn’t confirmed what it plans to spend. Channel 4 and Channel 5 are also in “constructive discussions” to join.
The decision means the broadcasters will probably stop selling their old shows to Nettlix and other TV-streaming services like Amazon Prime.
A version of BritBox (www.britbox.com) is already available in the US and Canada, giving North American viewers access to many classic British shows, including Fatwty Towers, Doctor Who, Inspector Morse and Upstairs, Downstairs. It has around 500,000 subscribers.
The BBC and ITV will now seek approval for BritBox from telecoms watchdog Ofcom. In 2009, competition regulators blocked the broadcasters launching a similar service called Project Kangaroo, ruling it would damage other video-on-demand companies. This paved the way for Netflix and Amazon Prime to build their services in the UK, attracting millions of viewers.
Ofcom indicated it may be more likely to approve BritBox, saying: “We want to see broadcasters collaborating to keep pace with global players, by offering quality UK content that’s available to viewers whenever and however they want to watch it”.