BritBox has officially opened for business in the UK, launching on Thursday after striking a big new partnership with British broadcaster Channel 4.
BritBox, a joint venture subscription streaming service between the BBC and ITV, will eventually feature content from all the major UK public service broadcasters after signing up Channel 4 for three years.
It is the UK broadcasters’ plan to tackle the invasion of U.S. streaming services, with the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Apple TV+ chipping away at their audience, particularly among younger demographics.
Channel 4 will hand over more than 1,000 hours of shows to BritBox from 2020, as well as an exclusive Film4 curated service featuring iconic British films. New Channel 4 shows will be available on BritBox 31 days after they have aired on television.
Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon said: “The opportunity to collaborate as PSBs on BritBox extends our track record of partnership and will ensure there is a compelling single destination for the very best high quality, home-grown content.”
As well as the deal with Channel 4, BritBox has also partnered with BT, which will package in the streaming service — which costs £5.99 ($7.69) a month — across a range of offers for its millions of customers. BT’s mobile network EE will also become the exclusive mobile partner for BritBox.
Meanwhile, Samsung will become the first company to host BritBox on its internet-connected televisions. The streaming service will be featured as a “Recommended App” on Samsung Smart TVs and will be included in a marketing push by the South Korean electronics giant.
Reemah Sakaan, group director of ITV SVOD, said: “BritBox is all about bringing together the best of British creativity and talent in a new digital world. Today’s launch and announcement of our partnership deals with Channel 4 and BT underline the quality and scale we want the service to embody.”
BritBox plans for Doctor Who library and Midsomer Murders exclusives
BritBox opens its doors to UK consumers with thousands of hours of content from the BBC, ITV and Channel 5, including box-sets of hit shows like Downton Abbey, Gavin & Stacey, The Office, and Love Island. It also plans to commission its own shows with a budget of around £40M ($51M) for originals from ITV alone.
The service announced today that from December 26, it will feature a library of 627 classic Doctor Who episodes, dating from 1963 to 1989. BritBox will also premiere two episodes from season 20 of Midsomer Murders before they air on ITV as it attempts to lure in subscribers with original content.
Furthermore, in a sign that BritBox will be acquisitive to differentiate its offering, the streamer has picked up Australian cable network Foxtel’s gothic drama series Lambs Of God, starring Emmy-winning actress Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Essie Davis (The Babadook).
Based on the Marele Day novel, Lambs of God is a dark, gothic story about three nuns, each a generation apart, living in an isolated convent by the coast, and an unwelcome visitor who enters their lives and changes their world.
BritBox was given the greenlight by UK media regulator Ofcom in September, despite lobbying from the likes of Comcast’s Sky and indie trade union PACT. The UK proposition will be very different to the version of BritBox that is already live in the U.S. and Canada, where it is priced at $6.99 a month. BritBox is 90% owned by ITV, while the BBC holds the remaining 10%.