As The BBC Doubles Down On BritBox, Boss Tony Hall Says Viewers “May Not Want” More Streamers

Tony Hall
BBC director general Tony Hall. Rex

BBC director general Tony Hall has cast doubt on audience appetite for a bunch of new streaming services — just as the British broadcaster is preparing to double down on BritBox.

In a speech on Thursday, he said the TV industry is braced for a “second wave of disruption” as companies including Apple and Disney plan to take on Netflix and traditional broadcasters in the streaming wars.

Hall told the Royal Television Society’s Cambridge Convention that audiences may not want this level of fragmentation, questioning whether people will sign up for all the new services.

“The second wave [of disruption] will see a range of new entrants entering an already crowded market. We saw it last week as Apple announced their new subscription service. Disney, Hulu and others are to follow,”  he said. “This is, of course, great for audiences… possibly.”

He added: “The competition will be fierce. The libraries of current players may shrink, as other players pull their content to place them on their own services. The established streamers may need to fight harder to offer the value they currently give today. The public will be asked to subscribe to an array of streaming services. And they may not want them all.”

His comments appear to raise questions about future demand for the BBC’s own new streamer, BritBox, which it operates as a joint venture with rival British broadcaster ITV. They are preparing to launch BritBox in the UK this year for £5.99 ($7.50) a month, and will supercharge its library of British shows with original content.

BritBox was given the greenlight by UK media regulator Ofcom on Thursday, despite lobbying from the likes of Comcast’s Sky and indie trade union PACT. BritBox is already live in the U.S. and Canada where it is priced at for $6.99 a month.

Hall said BritBox “will be a great showcase for stories dreamed up, created, and told by British producers and talent.”

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