British broadcasters the BBC and ITV have formally agreed to launch their joint streaming service, BritBox, in the U.K. in the fourth quarter of 2019. It will be priced at £5.99 ($7.50) per month, making it the same price as the cheapest Netflix subscription in the U.K.
ITV will control BritBox, holding a 90% stake. The BBC will contribute programming but will not directly sink any cash into the new service, unless it exercises an option to increase its 10% share to 25%.
BritBox will be programmed with a catalog of shows from both broadcasters, plus some originals. Both BBC Studios and ITV Studios will pull shows from Netflix and other streamers in the U.K. to put on their new service. “The Office” is one title that Netflix will lose to BritBox. Period favorite “Downton Abbey” will also be on the soon-to-launch streamer.
“What is on Netflix will not be on BritBox, what is on Disney will not be on Britbox,” said ITV CEO Carolyn McCall. “We are not doing what Netflix does; it is totally complementary.”
Reality show “Love Island” and drama “Gentleman Jack” are among the newer titles that will be available. There will also be drama series including “Gavin & Stacey,” “Victoria,” “Happy Valley,” and “Broadchurch,” which will land on BritBox once existing agreements with other streamers end.
“The agreement to launch BritBox is a milestone moment,” McCall said. “Subscription video-on-demand is increasingly popular with consumers who love being able to watch what they want when they want to watch it. They are also happy to pay for this ease of access to quality content, and so BritBox is tapping into this, and [is] a new revenue stream for U.K. public service broadcasters.”
She later added that its research suggested half Netflix’s U.K. subscribers are interested in a streaming service programmed with homegrown fare.
Billing itself as the “best of British” programming, BritBox is already up and running in North America where it has about 650,000 subscribers. Its arrival on home turf in the U.K. comes two years after its launch in the U.S. While there has been speculation that other British broadcasters would participate in the U.K. iteration, including Channel 4 and Viacom’s Channel 5. At present the service encompasses only the BBC and ITV. “We’re in constructive discussions with the other parties,” a Channel 4 spokesman said.
“ITV and BBC have made, and continue to make, the programs that both reflect and shape British culture and creativity,” said BBC director general Tony Hall. “We now look forward to working together to launch the largest collection of British box sets ever – bringing the very best in past, present and future British programming and award-winning content to viewers all in one place.”