'Battle for eyeballs' as BBC and ITV launch new BritBox subscription service

Broadchurch looks set for new BritBox service.
Broadchurch looks set for new BritBox service.
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It’s long been the gold standard of television broadcasting with its beautifully-filmed period dramas such as Gentleman Jack, crime thrillers like Line of Duty, comedies and Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet nature documentaries which area snapped up by television companies globally.

Now the BBC is joining up with ITV - whose own host of blockbusters include Love Island, Victoria and Broadchurch - to launch the UK streaming subscription service BritBox at £5.99 a months later this year.

The “battle for eyeballs” is being driven by two underlying trends impacting on the television business.

Consumer behaviour is changing with many people preferring the convenience of subscription services.

The other is business strategy with networks facing fierce competition from services like Netflix and now realising the benefits of consolidating their resources and offerings.

BritBox, available in the UK between October and December will offer shows such as Love Island, Victoria, Gentleman Jack, The Office, boxsets and new shows especially commissioned.

It will also feature thousands of hours of classic British comedies, dramas and documentaries.

Tony Hall, BBC director general, said: “We have a world-beating TV industry with outstanding content. The BBC and ITV are at the centre of that.

“Together, we have been responsible for delivering the majority of ‘must see’ moments on British TV over the last decade. That ‘must see’ content will now be on BritBox...

“With a remit to be daring and different, many future classics will be commissioned and live on BritBox for the future.”

ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall said the launch announcement was “a milestone moment”.

“Subscription video on demand is increasingly popular with consumers who love being able to watch what they want when they want to watch it.

“They are also happy to pay for this ease of access to quality content, and so BritBox is tapping into this, and a new revenue stream for UK public service broadcasters.”

She said BritBox would contain “the largest collection of British boxsets ever - bringing the very best in past, present and future British programming and award-winning content to viewers all in one place”.

However, Tom Harrington, senior researcher at Enders Analysis, said while programmes like Morse and Midsomer Murders could be in the new line-up. many people did not see why they should “pay twice.”

“Excellent programmes, but these are the sort of things that people expect to get for free as part of their licence fee,” Mr Harrington said.

The Competition Commission previously vetoed a similar joint British service, suggesting viewers did not desire US shows.

Netflix announced earlier this yea it was raising prices.

A basic plan, allowing viewing on a single device and only in standard definition, remains unchanged at £5.99.

But its standard plan, which lets customers watch two screens and offers HD viewing, increased by £1 to £8.99 a month, while its premium offer, allowing four screens at a time and offers ultra HD, went up by £2 to £11.99 a month.