BritBox, the streaming venture which will see ITV team up with the BBC in a bid to rival Netflix, has been given a major boost by deals with Channel 4, mobile provider EE and BT.
ITV, which owns the majority of the streaming service, announced the launch of the £5 per month service today (7 Nov), and also unveiled the new programming and distribution deals.
The deal will make BritBox available to tens of millions of EE mobile customers across the UK. And the agreement with BT, which owns EE, will mean that anybody who subscribes to the company’s TV service will be able to stream BritBox-exclusive programmes.
Channel 4 involvement
It was also reported by The Guardian on Wednesday that Channel 4 programmes would be available on BritBox, meaning the service provides viewers with shows from all of the UK’s main channels.
Channel 4 will provide thousands of hours of television and film to the streaming service, as part of a three year deal with the streaming service.
Programmes from ITV, BBC, Channel 4 and Channel 5 have never been available on the same catch-up service.
BritBox is the first response from UK television companies to attempt to rival American streaming giants Netflix and Amazon.
Which new shows will be available?
Shows including Gavin & Stacey, Love Island, Downton Abbey and Broadchurch are among the most popular offerings that will be available on BritBox.
And new programmes will also be available to stream on demand, starting with Lambs of God, which stars Ann Dowd (who played Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s Tale) and Jessica Barden, who appeared as Alyssa in The End of the F***ing World.
Reemah Sakaan, ITV's group director for streaming, said there was a "whole slate of original programmes" in being developed for BritBox.
She also said it would be the streaming service of choice for fans of British television and film.
"It's got the widest range of UK box sets of any service," she said to The Guardian."Ostensibly the other streamers are US-focused so they make dramas for the US market, whereas BritBox is the faces, people and places that you know."
Which classic programmes will be available?
More than 600 Dr Who episodes will be on the service by Christmas, and beloved comedies like Blackadder, Fawlty Towers and Absolutely Fabulous will also be on BritBox. Channel 4 and Film4 programmes will be available from 2020, as will shows from Comedy Central UK.
And other archive programmes originally broadcast on UK channels that are currently on Netflix will move to BritBox.
However, huge hits of recent years, including Killing Eve, Peaky Blinders and Bodyguard, will not be on it at first. This is either because existing deals are in place with other streaming services, or because they are still on the broadcasters' own catch-up platforms.
It has also been confirmed that shows will not be available on BritBox until after they have been taken down from free catch-up services iPlayer, ITV Hub and All 4.
How does BritBox’s pricing compare with the other streaming services?
BritBox - £5.99 per month for HD and multi-screen viewingNetflix - £5.99 for basic package rising to £8.99 for a standard plan, including HD on two screensAmazon Prime - £5.99 on up to three screens simultaneouslyNow TV - £8.99 for entertainment pass, with optional extras - Cinema Pass (£11.99), Sports (£33.99), Kids (£3.99)YouTube Premium - £11.99
A number of people on social media have criticised the fact that those who have already paid their licence fee are effectively paying twice for programmes broadcast on the BBC.