BritBox joins battle of the streaming giants
BritBox – the new paid-for streaming service from the BBC and ITV – has launched.
The joint-venture platform will also show content from Channel 4 and Channel 5.
It the first time programmes from the UK’s main terrestrial channels will be available through one catch-up service.
BritBox was successfully launched in America more than two years ago, with a specially curated catalogue of content, and now has 650,000 subscribers.
The majority of UK content will be classic series – including Fawlty Towers, Blackadder and Absolutely Fabulous.
More recent favourites like Downton Abbey, Love Island and Broadchurch will also be available.
Doctor Who fans can look forward to more than 600 vintage episodes of the show filmed between 1963 and 1989 in the run-up to Christmas.
Shows will not appear on BritBox until they have dropped off free-to-use BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and All 4, where they can stay for up to a year.
This means viewers will have to wait before hits like Killing Eve, Bodyguard and Peaky Blinders arrive.
Some archive shows have recently been re-claimed from Netflix, in readiness for the new BritBox service.
Despite a focus on past dramas, there will also be some original shows.
The Handmaid’s Tale star, Ann Dowd, will appear in Lambs Of God, about a group of nuns living on a remote island.
Apple TV+ joined the fray just last week, while Disney+ launches in the US next week, and the UK early next year.
BritBox’s group director for streaming, Reemah Sakaan, says the familiarity of many of the BritBox shows is one of its biggest draws.
“Ostensibly the other streamers are US-focused so they make dramas for the US market, whereas BritBox is the faces, people and places that you know.”
Some viewers have expressed concern at the prospect of paying to watch programmes already funded by the licence fee, which costs £154.50 per year.
However, the BBC has defended the decision, saying the platform serves a “secondary market”.
Last summer, BBC director-general Lord Hall told critics it was similar to the release of a programme on DVD following its initial TV release.
Money made though the service will be put back into programme making.
In 2009 – ahead of the rise of Netflix – the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 attempted to launch a video-on-demand service featuring their content, but the venture was blocked by the UK competition regulator.
Streaming platforms compared
Britbox £5.99 per month / £72 per annum
Content: Love Island, Gavin & Stacey, Victoria
Netflix (standard tier): £8.99 per month / £108 per annum
Content: Stranger Things, The Crown
Amazon Prime (based on cheaper annual tariff) £6.58 per month / £79 per annum
Content: Good Omens, Man in the High Castle, The Grand Tour
AppleTV+ £4.99 per month / £60 per annum
Content: The Morning Show, shows from Oprah Winfrey, Stephen Spielberg
Disney+ £5.99 per month / £72 per annum (estimated)
Content: Star Wars, Avengers, The Simpson, Avatar
NOW TV Entertainment pass £8.99 per month / no annual fee
Content: Chernobyl, Succession, Watchmen