Thursday 7 November 2019 12:40 pm

BritBox launches in the UK - but can it challenge Netflix?

BritBox, the new streaming service from the BBC and ITV, has launched in the UK this morning as broadcasters attempt to muscle in on the lucrative online television market.

The platform, which announced this morning that it would also feature content from Channel 4 and Channel 5, is entering a crowded market, with market leaders Netflix and Amazon Prime soon to be joined by the likes of Disney+ and HBO Max.

Read more: Ofcom gives green light to BBC’s Britbox push

Creators say that the service has the “biggest collection of British box sets available in one place”, including both classic shows and newer offerings, with original content to be launched in 2020. 


The service will cost £5.99 a month, the same as Netflix, and will feature favourites like Downton Abbey, Love Island, Gavin & Stacey and over 600 classic episodes of Doctor Who.

However, hit shows such as Killing Eve and Bodyguard will not feature on the platform at first due to existing agreements.

Shows will be kept on BBC iPlayer for a year before they are added to the platform.

ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall has said that BritBox is not designed to replace US rivals, but should instead be viewed as an add on offering British-focused content.

She said: “You will immediately be in a world populated by people and faces that you know, and talent is a really important part of that.”

The broadcaster is investing up to £25m this platform, with the figure set to rise to £40m in 2020.

By comparison, Netflix paid $15bn for content in 2019.


Luke Bozeat, chief operating officer at MediaCom UK, welcomed the move, saying: 

“With the launch of BritBox, Britain’s ‘traditional’ broadcasters enter the VOD market armed with an affordable price point, and a combination of exclusive new and classic shows that appeal to multiple generations.” 

Bozeat said that the decision to launch the service was a necessary one, given the failure of all four broadcasters to reach younger audiences who consume content on phones, laptops and tablets.

“Britbox could well be the big break BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 need to flourish – provided they can all find the right mix of content old & new, originality and talent”, he added.

Read more: BBC accused of pulling a “fast one” on producers over BritBox plans

However, analysts at Shore Capital Markets were more sceptical about the new service, raising concerns over whether the platform will be able to gain traction in an increasingly crowded market:

“Specifically, we wonder whether a £5.99 price point will appeal to consumers who already have access to a growing library of similar content via ITV and the BBC’s existing VOD services”, analysts wrote. 

The service has been running since 2017 in North America where it has around 700,000 paid subscribers.

Main image credit: Getty

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