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Published on February 27th, 2019 | by Brad Gibson

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BBC, ITV announce BritBox streaming service coming to UK

Available in the U.S. since March 2017, the BBC and ITV confirmed plans Wednesday for the launch of the BritBox streaming service in the U.K. by the end of the year, in an attempt to rival Netflix.

The aim is to launch BritBox in the second half of 2019. Although an exact price was not announced, industry analysts expect the service to be priced around £6 per month, or around $9.25. It is also expected that like its American counterpart, the service will be available at launch as a tvOS app in the U.K.

The service’s success in the U.S. and Canada is being taken as proof there is a good chance it could win over British TV viewers. With evidence of more than 12 million UK households subscribing to at least one on-demand service and that number growing 20 percent annually, the broadcasters are hoping it will be a popular alternative to many.

ITV research found that in addition to their current subscriptions, with 43% of all online homes are interested in subscribing to a new SVOD service which features British content. This increases to over 50% for UK Netflix homes.

The broadcasters claim that BritBox in the UK will provide a large collection of British boxsets and original series, on demand. This they say would include the biggest collection of British content available on any streaming service and brand new commissions from British production companies specifically created for BritBox.

Other broadcasters are expected to join the service later, with Britain’s Channel 4 known to have taken part in discussions, according to The Guardian newspaper.

However, BritBox will not have the latest BBC and ITV shows, which will remain available through the catch-up BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub services. Both services, and their apps, are available on Apple TV devices in the U.K.

ITV programs are available on ITV Hub for a month after their initial broadcast, in line with the BBC’s iPlayer policy. However, the BBC is seeking approval to make many shows available on iPlayer for up to a year, which could affect when material becomes exclusively available on Britbox in Great Britain.

The concern of many is exactly what programming already available for free to British viewers on the BBC iPlayer and the ITV Hub will be moved to the BritBox offering, and if not immediately, when. As British taxpayers pay for BBC programming, there is little doubt there will be questions as to what shows will end up being part of the new paid service. 

ITV has pledged to invest up to $86.6 million in the joint venture over the next two years. The publicly funded BBC would not comment on whether it was putting a similar amount of money into the project.

ITV began pulling content previously available on Netflix in the U.K. from that service last year in preparation for the launch of BritBox in Great Britain.

The BritBox streaming service in the U.S. – available through its tvOS app for $6.99 a month after a seven-day free introductory trial – has been labeled by its owners a success after hitting 500,000 subscribers in late January.

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About the Author

Brad is co-founder and editor-in-chief of BESTAppleTV.com. He has been a technology reporter since the late 1980s having previously worked for MacUser, MacFormat, and iCreate magazines, as well as MacNN.com, MacObserver.com, MacCentral.com, MacMinute.com, and Macworld.com. He hosted and produced the MacFormat This Week podcast for three years. He was also a reporter, editor, and producer for the Associated Press and United Press International.



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