The BBC and ITV have confirmed plans to join forces and launch a paid-for streaming service called BritBox by the end of this year, in an attempt to head off Netflix.
Netflix is eating into the market share of traditional broadcasters, as audiences increasingly desert established channels and expect shows to be available instantly on streaming services.
BritBox will mainly feature archive BBC and ITV shows, alongside new British commissions made especially for the service. There were no details on pricing; the announcement said it would be “competitive”.
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. Other broadcasters are expected to join the service later, with Channel 4 known to have taken part in discussions, which were revealed by the Guardian last year.
ITV has pledged to invest up to £65m 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.
The decision means British broadcasters are likely to stop licensing their archive material to services such as Netflix to try to drive subscribers to the new UK service, which will operate on a fraction of the budget of its deep-pocketed US rivals.
If it will mainly feature archive content and not current as stated, then that pricing better be “competitive” otherwise I can’t see it being that compelling. Subscription services are dominant now in the streaming media industry and having another monthly cost for archive only will appeal only to a minority of die-hard fans.