BritBox UK Streaming Service Launches, Priced at £5.99 per Month.
Channel 4 has agreed to provide programmes to BritBox, the subscription streaming service, in a long-awaited deal that brings together Britain’s main public service channels under the ITV-led initiative.
BritBox announced on Thursday that it was “open for business” as it unveiled the three-year content deal with Channel 4, a partnership agreement with BT’s EE mobile service and arrangements with Samsung to promote the BritBox app on smart televisions.
Billed as a gateway to classic British content that supplements streaming services such as Netflix, the ITV-led platform has become a test of the willingness of UK broadcasters to stick together in the face of technological disruption and fierce US competition.
Although founded with the BBC, BritBox is 90 per cent owned by ITV, which has bankrolled the project as part of its answer to the decline in traditional television viewing and the rise of streaming.
Commercial negotiations to establish the service have been drawn out and difficult, with some broadcasters frustrated with the BBC for taking a more back-seat role and appearing to prioritise its own iPlayer service.
Alex Mahon, Channel 4 chief executive, described the service as a “compelling single destination” for homegrown content. She added that “in a world of almost unlimited choice”, Channel 4’s “public service brand values are more important than ever for viewers”.
BritBox offers archive material from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 at a cost of £5.99 a month. Shows available range from Only Fools and Horses and Dr Who to more recent hits such as Love Island.
All participating broadcasters will maintain their own independent catch-up and streaming services, with the BBC keeping many of its shows free on iPlayer for up to 12 months after they are broadcast. BritBox will also buy and commission its own original content, which may be crucial in differentiating it from a crowded field of rivals.
Channel 4, the last main broadcaster to sign up to the service, will provide more than 1,000 hours of material from next spring, with recently broadcast series available a month after transmission. Film from the Film4 franchise will be available later in 2020 under a “curated service”.