To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

BritBox: UK broadcasters launch Netflix rival

Deals with Channel 4 and EE bolster BritBox’s offering

The BritBox streaming service has launched in the UK, with shows from Channel 4 and Channel 5 joining the previously announced partnership between BBC and ITV.

The £5.99/mth service comes to market with a boosted offering, thanks to deals struck with other broadcasters, BT and EE mobile.

BritBox is mainly built up of classic series, from Downton Abbey and Wolf Hall to Broadchurch, but will also include original programming, as well as a Film4 curated lineup of iconic British films.

The first of BritBox’s new shows will be Lambs of God, starring The Handmaid Tale’s Ann Dowd and The End of the F****** World’s Jessica Barden. The service will also host all 627 episodes of Doctor Who from between 1963 and 1989, as well as animated recreations of missing episodes.

Britbox looked rather paltry when it was first announced as a venture between BBC and ITV, especially against increasingly competitive crowd of new streaming apps. The deal with Channel 4, however, gives a leg up for the British-focused service. Whether it’s enough to make viewers part with an extra £6 per month remains to be seen, however.

A deal with BT means that BritBox will be offered to subscribers of its pay-TV service, while EE will be Britbox’s exclusive mobile partner.

“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,” said Reemah Sakaan, the group director of ITV’s subscription video-on-demand services.

The launch comes not soon after the rollout of Apple TV+, the technology giant’s own streaming service, which includes big-budget offerings such as The Morning Show, which stars Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. Elsewhere, across Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Now TV, there’s an ever growing number of new shows – from Watchmen to Stranger Things. How will BritBox compete?

Perhaps it won’t need to. The service will mainly be built up of classic shows. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sakaan said older programmes “shouldn’t be underestimated”.

“The new battleground, quite often in streaming, are shows like Friends, which are 20 years old and are the top performers.”

Friends is one thing. Old episodes of Allo Allo is something else. Still, time will tell.

Read more