Sunday 15 December 2019 1:23 pm

Sky scuppers hopes of Britbox deal in blow for new streaming service

ITV and the BBC have suffered a major setback to their plans for Britbox, as the chances of securing a highly sought-after distribution deal with Sky have all but disappeared.

The streaming service, jointly run by the public service broadcasters, has already bagged partnerships with the likes of BT, Freeview and Samsung to deliver its collection of British boxsets to viewers.

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However, it is understood that Sky has lost interest in a similar distribution deal with Britbox, as the platform would not offer significant additional value for its customers.

Earlier this year Sky signed a deal with BBC Studios to bring hundreds of hours of content to its pay-TV and Now TV customers. The deal includes iconic comedies such as The Vicar and Dibley and Only Fools and Horses, as well contemporary favourites such as QI and Top Gear.

Last week the media firm also penned an agreement with Channel 5 for a range of entertainment and factual boxsets.

While Sky has not ruled out a future deal with Britbox, it is understood that a distribution deal is now highly unlikely.

The frosty reception, first reported by The Sunday Times, will come as a major blow to the nascent streaming platform, which is battling for prominence in a crowded market.

ITV and the BBC launched Britbox last month as a response to shifting viewer habits and the rise of US streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon.

The public service broadcasters have launched an aggressive marketing campaign for the £5.99 per month service in the run-up to Christmas.

However, industry experts have voiced concerns about the platform’s ability to compete with its larger rivals, as it does not have exclusive rights to many of its shows.

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A spokesperson for Sky said: “We’ll continue to discuss new partnerships with a range of content providers, but we remain disciplined in investing in those new partnerships where they clearly deliver additional value to our customers.”

An ITV spokesperson said: “We are looking forward to extending the number of partners we have to enable Britbox to get to more and more homes.”

Main image credit: ITV