BBC, ITV Launching SVOD Service in the U.S.13 Dec, 2016 By: Erik Gruenwedel
British broadcasters BBC and ITV are prepping a subscription streaming service for launch in the first quarter in the United States — dubbed BritBox, and showcasing British-centric content, including movies, TV shows and soap operas.
AMC Networks, which has a joint venture with BBC Worldwide for cable channel BBC America, is investing in BritBox with a non-voting minority interest.
BritBox will be available on the Web, mobile (iOS and Android), Roku, AppleTV, and Chromecast at launch in the U.S., with international market rollouts slated in the future. Pricing for the service will be available at launch.
The U.S. SVOD market is estimated to top $8 billion in revenue by end of the year, with some 110 million subscriptions.
“BritBox will offer a streaming experience like no other, with thousands of hours of programs across a wide variety of genres — some of which will be available right after their U.K. broadcast,” Ann Sarnoff, president of BBC Worldwide North America, said in a statement.
Content offerings will include an array of dramas never-before-seen in the U.S., including “New Blood” from novelist Anthony Horowitz, “Tutankhamun,” “The Moonstone” and “In the Dark,” from BAFTA award-winning writer Danny Brocklehurst (“Ordinary Lies”). Also, season premieres of drama favorites “Cold Feet” and “Silent Witness” will be available.
The “Now” category will feature a selection of soaps and series that will be available 24 hours after their U.K. broadcast, including “Eastenders,” “Emmerdale” and “Holby City.”
Classic TV shows include period dramas “Brideshead Revisited,” “Pride and Prejudice” and “Upstairs Downstairs”; political thriller “State of Play”; murder mystery series “Inspector Morse” and “Rosemary and Thyme”; and sitcoms “Keeping Up Appearances” and “Fawlty Towers,” among others.
Notably, AMC Networks — home of “The Walking Dead” — recently acquired options that if exercised constitute majority interest in RLJ Entertainment, which owns and operates Acorn TV, a SVOD service about as old as Netflix and featuring British fare.
AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan views BritBox as a strategic opportunity to participate in a digital platform offering “highest quality” programming.
“We think this service will be irresistible to people who value creative content and great television.”