Taking aim at the red-hot SVOD market, BBC and ITV have moved ahead with the U.S. launch of BritBox, a service that specializes in British television and sells for $6.99 per month following a seven-day free trial period.
BritBox is starting off with a library with “thousands” of hours or programming, with most exclusive to the service. Its “Now” category will stream out certain British soaps and other shows as soon as 24 hours after their U.K. broadcast premiere, including EastEnders, Emmerdale, Holby City and Casualty, among others. Premieres slated for the U.S. include New Blood and Tutankhamun.
BritBox’s library also features a slate of British dramas and comedies (i.e. Miss Marple, Inspector Morse, Blackadder, Sherlock Holmes, Are You Being Served?, Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Early Cases, the original version of The Office, the premiere of The Moonstone), and exclusives such as Upstairs Downstairs and Brideshead Revisited.
The service will also include curated playlists such as “Very British Beginnings” (a showcase of actors such as Daniel Craig, Emily Blunt, and James Corden early in their careers), “Best of British Comedy,” “Iconic Detectives,” and “Literary Adaptations.”
BritBox, which will tangle with competitors such as Acorn TV, is debuting on several platforms, including Web browsers, Apple TV devices and iOS and Android mobile devices, with plans underway to extend access to Roku players, Chromecast streaming adapters shortly after today’s launch.
“We will be the home of the largest collection of British television” in the U.S, Soumya Sriraman, president of BritBox, said.
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BritBox isn’t revealing any subscriber forecasts for its ad-free service, but Sriraman said she’s “pretty confident that we will probably be the biggest SVOD launch this year. We are feeling good about consumers are responding to us...and are asking about this service.”
Though BritBox is starting off under a direct-to-consumer strategy, Sriraman said the service will also seek other distribution channels, acknowledging the emergence of aggregation services like Amazon Channels and the push by some MVPDs to integrate OTT and SVOD services with their set-top box platforms.
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AMC Networks, which has a J.V. with BBC Worldwide for cable net BBC America, is an investor in BritBox with a non-voting minority interest. BBC Worldwide and ITV have an equal majority stake in the BritBox venture.
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More about the BritBox service, its strategy, and what features are on its road map will be featured in a Q&A with Sriraman that will appear in the Next TV section of the March 13 edition of Broadcasting & Cable.