BBC and ITV are on the cusp of concluding legal agreements on a UK version of their 'BritBox' streaming service, according to an announcement today.
The rival British broadcasters are banding together for a "strategic partnership" on a Netflix-style platform in the UK, full of "boxsets and original series" available on demand, and brand-new series commissioned solely for the BritBox service.
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Technically BritBox is already live in North America and Canada – and running up hundreds of thousands of subscribers wanting a British TV fix – though bringing the service to home turf is expected to bring changes to the quantity of content available.
Other UK broadcasters are expected to join up with the service in due course, too.
The UK service is expected to launch in the second half of 2019, and will be priced "competitively". Given the US pricing is $6.99 a month, around the cost of a Basic Netflix subscription, we expect something in the realm of £6.99 for UK viewers.
It's uncertain whether viewers already paying TV license fees to the BBC will be able to sign up for free – or whether the iPlayer service will remain for those viewers.
When in Britain
British broadcasters have long looked to the meteoric rise of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and similar streaming services with fear, as viewing habits shift towards on-demand watching.
While UK viewers have had to make do with BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub catch-up services, the joint BritBox platform looks set to be a one-stop platform for the biggest British shows and programmes, and will be increasingly crucial for the long-term survival of these British broadcasters.
Both iPlayer and ITV Hub – the broadcaster's respective catch-up services – may face an uncertain future as BritBox gains momentum.
Until BritBox becomes more of a global service, though, both BBC and ITV will likely still be reliant on Netflix and other middle-man streaming platforms to bring their content outside of the UK and US. But BritBox is already looking like the start of something bigger.