ITV and the BBC have now reached final agreement on launching their BritBox streaming service in the UK.
The joint venture already operates in the US and Canada where the two broadcasters have partnered with AMC to bring users a mix of largely UK drama series. Preliminary plans for a UK version were announced earlier this year and talks have been ongoing since to reach a final agreement.
Under a deal announced today, ITV will hold 90% of the equity in the venture with the BBC holding the balance. The broadcaster also has an option to acquire additional shares over time up to 25% in total and ITV will have the ability to bring additional investors on board.
ITV will be able to appoint a majority of the BritBox board while the BBC’s equity stake provides it with board representation from the outset.
The partners say the service “will be competitively priced at £5.99 per month” with content in HD and viewable across multiple screens and devices.
At launch content will be centred on British boxsets, with the library later being bolstered by “a broad range of original series made exclusively for BritBox.”
Confirmed shows include Love Island, Famalam, Cleaning Up and Gentleman Jack which will be available after they’ve aired on ITV and BBC, plus popular past shows such as Gavin & Stacey, Victoria, Happy Valley, Broadchurch, Les Miserables, The Office and Benidorm which will be on the service at launch or come when licences with other SVOD providers end.
Carolyn McCall, CEO of ITV, said: “The agreement to launch BritBox is a milestone moment. Subscription video on demand is increasingly popular with consumers who love being able to watch what they want when they want to watch it.
“They are also happy to pay for this ease of access to quality content and so BritBox is tapping into this, and a new revenue stream for UK public service broadcasters.
“ITV and BBC have made, and continue to make, the programmes that both reflect and shape British culture and creativity. We now look forward to working together to launch the largest collection of British boxsets ever – bringing the very best in past, present and future British programming and award-winning content to viewers all in one place.”
BBC Director General, Tony Hall, said: “We have a world beating TV industry with outstanding content. The BBC and ITV are at the centre of that. Together, we have been responsible for delivering the majority of “must see” moments on British TV over the last decade. That “must see” content will now be on BritBox.
“But this service isn’t just about the past. I am really excited about the new shows it will commission. With a remit to be daring and different, many future classics will be commissioned and live on BritBox for the future.
“These are exciting times for people who love quality TV. Importantly, these shows will be truly British, showcasing our culture and telling distinctive stories. It’s what makes real British TV so special.”
Media analyst Paolo Pescatore from PP Foresight said today’s news was “too little too late.”
He added: “Netflix has a huge head start over this and forthcoming new services from the likes of Apple, Disney and others.”
“However, pricing is punchy and the content offering looks attractive. It represents a great channel for British produced content.”
“Key to its success will be distribution and partnerships with cable, pay TV and telco providers.”