BBC and ITV to launch British streaming service to rival Netflix

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Britbox

The BBC and ITV are in the “concluding phase” of talks to launch a streaming service called Britbox in the second half of 2019.

In a bid to ward off Netflix, which is eating into their market share, the two broadcasters will introduce a “best of British” streaming service. Britbox will offer “an unrivalled collection of British boxsets and original series”, making it “the biggest collection of British content available on any streaming service.”

There will also be some bespoke commissions from British production companies. However, BritBox will not offer the latest BBC and ITV shows, which will remain available on their existing catch-up BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub services.

ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall said: “I am really pleased that ITV and the BBC are at the concluding stage of discussions to launch a new streaming service. BritBox will be the home for the best of British creativity - celebrating the best of the past, the best of today and investing in new British originated content in the future. “

BBC Director General Tony Hall added: “I am delighted that the BBC and ITV are working together on something truly special - BritBox.  A new streaming service delivering the best home grown content to the public who love it best. The service will have everything from old favourites to recent shows and brand new commissions.  It’s an exciting time for the viewing public.”

The two broadcasters “anticipate that other partners will be added to BritBox” and will speak to regulators and the wider industry about their proposals. The organisations have already launched Britbox in the US, where it has exceeded targets by gaining more than 500,000 subscribers.

“This success shows the BBC and ITV have the knowhow to launch and manage a streaming service and research with the British public shows that there is a real appetite for a new British streaming service - in addition to their current subscriptions,” the broadcasters added.

They would not confirm pricing for the service in the UK, but said it would be “competitive”. A further update will be provided when a formal agreement is reached.

ITV has pledged to invest at least £65m in the joint-venture over the next two years, although the BBC has not said whether it would be putting a similar amount into the project.

The announcement coincided with ITV’s annual financial results, which showed pre-tax profit rising 13% to £567 and total revenue rising 3% to £3.77bn for the 12 months ended 31 December,

Total advertising revenue was up 1% for the full year, with video-on-demand revenue up 36%. However, the broadcaster warned that first-half revenues and profits would be impacted by tough comparatives against revenues from the 2018 World Cup.