The two major broadcast networks in the UK are jointly launching a streaming service under the name BritBox. The BBC and ITV are backing a Netflix-esque service that’ll showcase the best of the two firm’s output. Users will be able to watch a wide range of the pair’s programming, including premium dramas and sitcoms. In addition, Anglophiles will be able to view some of the country’s most popular soap operas, including EastEnders and Emmerdale, a day after they air in the UK.
The service will also offer a host of archive material including classic premium BBC dramas like State of Play and Pride and Prejudice. ITV, which is more traditionally downmarket than the publicly-owned broadcaster, will offer up detective shows like Inspector Morse and Rosemary and Thyme. In addition, classic sitcoms like Fawlty Towers and Keeping up Appearances will help explain Britain’s obsession with class and gardening. In total, there will be “thousands of hours” worth of material for people hungry for new content to binge.
We are curious what this will mean for BBC America in the long run, since that has been the home of so much British TV content. AMC Networks invests in the channel and has taken a minority stake in BritBox, so it’s likely that one won’t attempt to hurt the other. Instead, the service may pull together the otherwise piecemeal distribution of British TV in the US, which is scattered around several different broadcasters. It’s likely that flagship shows like Doctor Who and Top Gear will remain available on cable rather than behind a paywall.
BritBox will launch at some point at the start of 2017 for an as-yet undisclosed price, but we can expect it to be around the ten dollar mark. The platform will be available online, as well as on iOS and Android devices — not to mention on the Apple TV, Roku and Chromecast TV gear. It’s about damn time too, given that the international version of the iPlayer never made it to the US and was shuttered back in 2015.