February 27, 2019
The BBC and ITV’s new service is a bid to keep them afloat before they get ruined by streaming giants. But it’s riddled with risks
BritBox: the bizarre Netflix rival that will surely bomb
The BBC and ITV’s newly announced BritBox – a joint streaming service – is a bizarre example of British broadcasters deciding “to work together in the national interest”, to borrow a phrase currently popular in Westminster.
Facing potentially ruinous competition from US streaming giants, led by Netflix and Amazon Prime, Britain’s oldest broadcasters are trying to claim a Blighty stake in the increasingly global, but largely American-financed, TV market. The venture submerges (if not necessarily suspending) decades of rivalry between the BBC and ITV so intense that both sides keep their schedules secret until the last minute to avoid giving the other any advantage.
Like an abandoned prototype from a decade ago, Project Kangaroo, BritBox will be subject to regulatory approval. Last time, to the delight of Rupert Murdoch, who then owned Sky, the Competition Commission ruled that a BBC-ITV collaboration would result in an unfair concentration of power.
But the TV landscape has changed so much that the older British broadcasters are almost powerless against the global box-setters. If the Competition and Markets Authority (which now scrutinises deals) and the media regulator Ofcom were to block BritBox, it would lead to incredulity and likely calls for judicial review. With Sky now owned by Comcast, it helps that Murdoch newspapers are unlikely to be much of a dog in the fight this time.
However, due to another TV trend – the rise of independent production companies – BritBox faces issues at least as problematic as the external pressures that barbecued Kangaroo.
A streaming service lives or dies by the content rights it owns, or can buy. But of the top 25 programmes in this newspaper’s best TV shows of 2018, only one, Doctor Who, was wholly owned by the BBC. Three huge BBC hits – Bodyguard, Killing Eve and Poldark – were made by independent producers World and Mammoth, and Sid Gentle.
BritBox: the bizarre Netflix rival that will surely bomb
To complicate matters, World and Mammoth are now part of ITV, which has recently followed a canny strategy of gathering more than 60 independent production companies under the umbrella of ITV Studios. This has led to the oddity of ‘BBC shows’ having their streaming rights sold by ITV to Netflix, as happened with Bodyguard and Poldark.
One of the key imponderables of BritBox is whether ITV Studios will be able to persuade its partners such as Mammoth to license material to BritBox rather than the streaming behemoths. The new service will need to be exceptionally well-funded to match the huge rewards Netflix and Amazon can offer.
With the BBC now owning so few of its hits – the reason it could not avoid losing the Great British Bake-Off to Channel 4 – what the Corporation is mainly putting into BritBox is its vast archive, from the days when it did own sole rights to most shows.
There were hints of a possible structural tension in the venture when ITV chief executive, Carolyn McCall, stressed on the Today programme that “ITV will create original content” for the service. What went unsaid was that it would be hard for the BBC to do so, without undermining the case for the licence fee and the iPlayer, two of its pivotal assets. The fact that McCall was only able to announce she was in the “final stages” of an agreement with the BBC, rather than formally launching the scheme, may also suggest how legally and logistically complex the idea is. (The absence at this stage of Channel 4, a previously rumoured partner, is another sign of the agonising calculations networks are having to make.)
As it would be politically disastrous for the BBC to be thought to spend significant licence fee cash on BritBox, a crucial decision will be the price charged for the service. Making the announcement, McCall refused to be drawn on industry guesses of around £5 per month. (A Netflix subscription in the UK costs from £7.99 to £9.99; an Amazon Prime Video membership is £5.99 monthly, with various student or new-user discounts.)
Whatever it costs, BritBox may also hold a clue to the far future of British broadcasting. The traditional ways the BBC and ITV are funded – by licence fee and advertising income – are both under considerable pressure. This has forced broadcasters to examine the possibility of ultimately moving to subscription models, which the rise of the streamers has made to seem the natural way of getting TV, especially for younger viewers.
So might future TV fans in Britain be offered a choice between, or combination of, subscriptions to something like Sky, Netflix, Amazon and BritBox?
It is a huge question whether the ITV model of multiple production companies could ever be married long-term with the BBC structure of 22,000 employees and eye-watering pension commitments.
But the hugely risky BritBox project demonstrates the extent to which traditional British ways of making and paying for TV must now be subjected to thinking outside the box.
Related Stories
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Ezra Miller Under Fire for Allegedly Choking a Woman | E! News
April 06, 2020
qFs4x3CGzwM
Pink Recalls Her "Roller-Coaster" Experience With Coronavirus | E! News
April 06, 2020
dn4YUn0Quk4
Blake Shelton Pokes Fun at Himself: "Say Stace Everybody" | E! News
April 06, 2020
dYuR1n20hP0
'Westworld' Stars Evan Rachel Wood & Tessa Thompson on Their Collaboration in Season 3
April 06, 2020
UHCoQJUjM5A
Ed Helms talks 'Coffee and Kareem'
April 06, 2020
sbQzbJE8V_o
'Coffee & Kareem' Star Ed Helms' Shows Off His Gene Autry Guitar
April 06, 2020
aTV0WckKWJI
Peter Weber could date Kelley Flanagan or Charlize Theron next | Page Six Celebrity News
April 06, 2020
oWQ4k_icwj8
Teresa Giudice's dad's best moments on 'The Real Housewives of New Jersey' | Page Six Celebrity News
April 06, 2020
ITmtQAWrO0Y
Nikki and Brie Bella take us inside their closets, talk pregnancy style | Page Six Celebrity News
April 01, 2020
T9art86o6FI
Big & Rich Get the 'Stay Home' Point Across with New Song | TMZ
April 06, 2020
D_EGl1aJ32U
Quibi's Jeffrey Katzenberg Explains How New Service is a Game Changer | TMZ
April 06, 2020
N6QTsQVNxL4
L.A. Beachgoers & Hikers Hit the Sand, Trails Despite Beach Closures | TMZ
April 04, 2020
JtcY523mXRE
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
08
Mar
ITALY: Serie A
Juventus - Inter Milan
08
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester United - Manchester City
08
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - Everton
08
Mar
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Betis - Real Madrid
08
Mar
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Genoa
07
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Burnley - Tottenham Hotspur
07
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - West Ham United
07
Mar
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Real Sociedad
07
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Liverpool - Bournemouth
07
Mar
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Sevilla
01
Mar
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Madrid - Barcelona
01
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Everton - Manchester United
01
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur - Wolves
01
Mar
SPAIN: La Liga
Espanyol - Atletico Madrid
01
Mar
ITALY: Serie A
Cagliari - Roma
29
Feb
ENGLAND: Premier League
Watford - Liverpool
29
Feb
ITALY: Serie A
Napoli - Torino
29
Feb
ENGLAND: Premier League
Bournemouth - Chelsea
24
Feb
ENGLAND: Premier League
Liverpool - West Ham United
23
Feb
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Everton
23
Feb
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester United - Watford
23
Feb
ITALY: Serie A
Roma - Lecce
23
Feb
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Villarreal
22
Feb
SPAIN: La Liga
Levante - Real Madrid
22
Feb
ITALY: Serie A
Fiorentina - AC Milan
22
Feb
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leicester City - Manchester City
22
Feb
ITALY: Serie A
Spal - Juventus
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k tudKp5Vhs3k iwWHibhssSo kQr0XHPbICM 5NeCb7JxaRk u5xQKdNqazE 56CdjlzJqSA kw7uFRs-Az0 xNv0JZWLV7w
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.