We take a look at Britbox, the new streaming service backed by the BBC and ITV which brings together content from all of the UK’s main free to air broadcasters.
What’s on Britbox?
The service offers a selection of past drama and comedy greats, including Open All Hours, all surviving episodes of the original Doctor Who, Joan Hickson’s superb Miss Marple, Bridehead Revisited and Inspector Morse, plus more recent hits such as Cold Feet, Endeavour, Lewis, Grantchester and Vera.
There’s also a selection of older film titles, including remastered versions of Carry On films, Michael Caine’s The Ipcress File and The Fourth Protocol, and Educating Rita, in which Caine stars opposite Julie Walters.
On top of programmes from its founders, the service has agreed deals to include documentaries from Channel 5 – a selection of which are already available – and, from later this year, British drama boxsets from Channel 4 and movies from Film 4.
As well as adding even more shows from the archives, these deals will allow Britbox to offer newer programmes 30 days after the last episode was broadcast or left the broadcaster’s catch-up service (iPlayer, ITV Hub, My5 and All4).
This means that the most recent episodes of Endeavour and Cold Feet, both of which aired on ITV just last month, will be arriving on the service in the next few weeks.
Content is offered advert-free and in High Definition though for older programmes this often means they’ve been upscaled so won’t look as good as new titles which were originally recorded in HD.
How Much Is Britbox?
Britbox costs £5.99 per month after a no-commitment 30-day free trial. As with other streaming services, there’s no contract so you’re free to cancel at any time.
(Customers on other mobile networks can still install the Britbox mobile app and sign-up for the service, they just won’t be able to get the free six months access.)
How Do I Watch?
Programmes can be watched by installing an app on your iPhone, iPad or Android mobile or tablet, as well as on a selection of Freeview Play set top boxes and recent Smart TV models.
It’s also available on Amazon’s Fire TV sticks which also give access to services such as iPlayer, Amazon’s own Prime Video service, Netflix and ITV Hub and are a great way to add catch-up and on-demand apps to your existing TV.
Can It Really Be a Success?
There are lots of UK homes which don’t have a Personal Video Recorder (PVR) of any kind and so potentially find themselves having to endure Standard Definition pictures on the ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 catch-up players.
Having secured speedy access to current shows, Britbox could serve as a sort of ‘virtual PVR’ for such homes, giving them advert-free, HD access to programmes for a small monthly fee.
And the existence of repeat-heavy channels such as UKTV’s Gold, ITV 4 and DVD labels such as Network suggest there’s a healthy market for revisiting older content.
Britbox isn’t trying to compete with Netflix, Amazon or Disney+ and with the right advertising campaign it’s possible to see the service carving out a successful niche for itself.
Is it Worth Getting?
Yes – provided you’re just looking to re-watch shows you probably saw the first time they were broadcast, or something you missed on ITV, Channel 4 or Channel 5 recently and didn’t fancy having to endure their Standard Definition catch-up service.
There’s a good mix of content which has already grown since the service’s launch in November and Britbox does a nice job of curating and signposting shows to make them easy to discover.
To sign up head over to www.britbox.co.uk