BritBox has launched: What you need to know

BritBox has entered the highly competitive streaming service market – following in the footsteps of Netflix and Apple TV+.

It hopes to muscle in on an industry which, up to now, has been dominated by US giants.

Here are some questions answered.

– Why now?

Broadcasters hoped to launch a similar joint service 10 years ago, but plans were vetoed by authorities in a decision which has since been criticised.

Since then, Netflix and Amazon have made their mark on British homes and Apple TV+ launched just days ago.

With Disney+ is also expected to arrive soon, so BritBox wanted to get its offering out as soon as possible.

BritBox service launches
Channel 4 has joined BritBox (BritBox)

The BBC, which has always had commercial funding streams through the likes of BBC Studios and BBC Worldwide, says no licence fee funding will be used to pay for the service.

ITV has said its net investment in the streaming service will be up to £25 million in 2019, rising to around £40 million in 2020 and declining thereafter.

– What can I watch on BritBox?

BritBox says it is the “biggest collection of British content available on any streaming service”, with new content arriving every week.

BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 shows will be on the service.

Highlights, either available now or arriving later, include hundreds of episodes of Doctor Who, series and specials of Downton Abbey, Broadchurch, Only Fools And Horses, Gavin & Stacey, Extras, Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and Poirot.

More “content partners” could still be announced.

Shows like Broadchurch are on the service
Shows like Broadchurch are on the service (Steve Redmond/ITV)

Shows and British films from Channel 4 and Film4 will arrive in 2020.

BritBox will also feature new commissions specifically created for the streaming service.


– How long will shows be on BritBox?

BritBox is designed as “a long-term home” for many shows, with no plans for programmes to be taken off the service.

Ofcom previously approved the BBC’s plan to extend iPlayer’s catch-up window to 12 months.

Shows are expected to arrive on BritBox only after they have been on BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub.

BBC show McMafia could also feature on the service
BBC show McMafia could also feature on the service (Nick Wall/BBC)

– Will BBC and ITV shows still feature on rival streaming services such as Netflix?

BritBox says it will “build a distinctive library of content as existing licence agreements with other players expire”.

But some BBC shows are made by or with independent producers, who own the rights to their programmes and choose where to air their shows.

The BBC and ITV sometimes co-produce shows with Netflix and could continue to do so.

BBC and ITV confirm proposals for BritBox – a new transformational streaming service: https://t.co/LAPQhbfiycpic.twitter.com/z4qgqKmy7Q

— BBC Press Office (@bbcpress) February 27, 2019

– How much does it cost?

The service costs £5.99 a month in HD and across multiple devices and it is offering a 30-day free trial.

Apple TV+ launched on November 1, costing £4.99 a month after a seven-day trial.

Netflix’s basic plan costs £5.99 – the same as BritBox – but this does not include HD viewing or multi-screen.

Access to Amazon Prime Video library of TV and film costs £5.99 a month.

Sky’s contribution to the streaming market offers a more customisable, and therefore complex, menu of options – an  Entertainment Pass costs £7.99 a month.

Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon star in an Apple show
Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon star in an Apple show (Ian West/PA)

What do the industry watchers say?

Dani Warner, TV expert at uSwitch.com, said: “The £5.99 monthly price looks like good value for money when considering the service’s extensive back catalogue, setting it apart from the limited number of shows on new rival Apple TV+, which costs £4.99 a month.”

But he added: “Some viewers may be disappointed that recent hit shows like Bodyguard and Killing Eve will not feature on BritBox at first due to existing agreements with other providers, and iPlayer — which is a free service — will get to keep shows for one year before they transfer over.

“BritBox will be a vault of great British entertainment when these shows eventually join the likes of Love Island, Downton Abbey, Broadchurch and Gavin & Stacey.”

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