BBC and ITV in Talks to Launch Video Streaming Service

BBC Broadcasting House
Courtesy of Matt Cetti-Roberts/LNP/REX/Shutterstock

Brit pubcaster BBC is in early-stage discussions with rival channel ITV about launching a Netflix-style subscription video streaming service, according to The Guardian.

The U.K.-based paper said the two channels were looking at developing a subscription TV service that would likely provide older, archive TV content rather than a first-run of shows. But, says the report, there is understood to be a “certain amount” of original commissions. NBC Universal, which is behind programs such as BBC’s “Downton Abbey,” is also understood to be involved in the discussions.

Both the Beeb and commercial broadcaster ITV make their content available to audiences digitally for 30 days. Britons pay £145.50 ($207.95) per year for access to BBC content, including the BBCiPlayer and after content moves off the service, it can be accessed through pay-TV service UKTV, online outlet BBC Store or DVDs and Netflix, the latter of which houses shows like “Top Gear.”

ITV management has talked about ways to exploit its extensive program archive, which includes shows such as “Mr Selfridge,” “Come Dine With Me,” Coronation Street” and “Hell’s Kitchen,” and has noted the success of VoD and streaming services such as Netflix in extending the commercial life of content.

The channel has grown its production arm, ITV Studios, through a series of acquisitions which led to a revenue hike of a third last year to £1.2 billion ($1.7 billion) and a profit increase of 27% to £206 million ($294 million). ITV chief Adam Croizer said earlier this month at the company’s annual results announcement that ITV would continue to build on its “ability to monetise our content online as well as on pay channels.”

BBC director general Tony Hall has made no secret of his goal to tap into new revenue streams and see the channel evolve in the digital age. Last September, he announced that the BBC would be launching a U.S. streaming service in 2016.

Reps for both parties declined to comment.