BritBox Launches in U.K. With New Deal for Content From Channel 4

It’s full stream ahead for BritBox in the U.K. The ITV-and-BBC-run SVOD service launched on home turf Thursday after having been available for nearly three years already in the U.S. The platform is also set to feature film and TV content from Britain’s Channel 4 as the result of a new agreement for the broadcaster to participate.

The service, priced at £5.99 ($7.50) per month, will offer classic and contemporary British shows, such as “The Office” and “Downton Abbey,” as well as BritBox-only originals. There will be the the now-customary one-month free trial for consumers. Unlike BritBox in the U.S., which is an equal joint venture between ITV and BBC Studios, the U.K. version has a different ownership structure, with the BBC taking only a 10% stake. BBC senior management has told Variety that the pubcaster is comfortable with the arrangement given that its budget is under pressure.

Adding Channel 4 content to BritBox in the U.K. means that it will feature programming from Britain’s biggest free-to-air channels. The Channel 4 deal is for about 1,000 hours of content and spans TV shows and movies from the Film4 service. Channel 4 and Channel 5 are purely content partners and have no equity stakes in BritBox.

“Channel 4 has always showcased distinctive and diverse British content and, in a world of almost unlimited choice, our public-service brand values are more important than ever for viewers,” said Alex Mahon, CEO of Channel 4. “The opportunity to collaborate as [public-service broadcasters] on BritBox extends our track record of partnership and will ensure there is a compelling single destination for the very best high-quality, homegrown content.”

Content will flow to BritBox after it has been on the broadcasters’ own catchup services. For Channel 4 and Channel 5 content, the catch-up window is 30 days, but for BBC fare the window is moving to a year as BBC makes its iPlayer central to its growth plans.

BritBox has also struck distribution agreements with telcos BT and EE. ITV would not divulge subscriber targets but sources have previously told Variety that it hopes to attract about 2 million subscribers within a couple of years. There will be about six scripted originals a year on the service, BritBox management said, without divulging any details.

At launch, BritBox will offer episodes of “Midsomer Murders” before they hit linear. Both of the program sales arms of the BBC and ITV are pulling their content from Netflix and other streamers as they focus on building BritBox.

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