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What is BritBox? The BBC and ITV’s answer to Netflix explained

Alan Martin
27 Feb 2019
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Already active in the US, BritBox will see the two broadcasters pool their shows into one streaming service

Look out Netflix, Amazon and Now TV: there’s a new streaming service in town. The BBC and ITV have announced a streaming service called BritBox, focusing on British-made content.
 
Read on for all the key details of BritBox and what you can expect from this new streaming service.

What is BritBox?

BritBox is a joint production from the BBC and ITV that will house the “biggest collection of British content available on any streaming service,” according to its makers.  
 
The BBC Director-General Tony Hall describes it thusly: “A new streaming service delivering the best home-grown content to the public who love it best. The service will have everything from old favourites to recent shows and brand new commissions. It’s an exciting time for the viewing public.”
 
So, in a sentence: new and old British shows in one place to stream over the internet.

What about Channel 4 and Channel 5?

Not for now, but it’s likely only a matter of time. Channel 4 were part of the early discussions, as our sister site Alphr reported last year.

Haven’t I heard of BritBox before?

Very possibly: it already exists in the US and Canada. But if you try and visit the existing site, you’re blocked from signing up.
 
If that seems unfair to you as a Brit reading this, bear in mind that iPlayer isn’t available over in the states, and paying for a BritBox subscription is the only (legal) way for North Americans to stream UK TV’s finest.

Will this replace BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub?

Apparently not. While BritBox will house a lot of box sets, it won’t have the newest programming, which will remain on the free services of iPlayer and ITV Hub.

Wait, so BritBox won’t be free?

Afraid not. While the BBC and ITV are yet to reveal pricing, they have stated that it’ll be “competitive.”
 
What does that mean? Well, Prime Video costs £5.99 per month, and Netflix goes between £5.99 and £9.99 per month depending on quality and the number of simultaneous streams. Add to this the fact that BritBox costs $6.99 (roughly £5.27) per month in the States, and you can have a pretty good guess at the kind of price point BritBox will be landing at.

How will I be able to watch BritBox?

Those kind of details haven’t been revealed, but the holding picture on the UK website suggests you’ll have a fair amount of choice. Pictured: a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop and a big-screen TV.
 
If it mimics the US version – which seems almost certain – then pretty much every option is catered for. “Start streaming now on your phone, tablet, computer, Chromecast, Apple TV or Roku,” the website reads.

When will BritBox launch?

Again, no exact date has been confirmed, but the companies say you can expect a UK launch in the second half of 2019. You can sign up for updates on the BritBox website if you’re intrigued.

Can it compete with Netflix and Amazon?

The companies involved are optimistic, buoyed by the early success of BritBox in North America, where it’s attracted over 500,000 subscribers.
 
Of course, that isn’t an entirely fair comparison given that, for most Americans and Canadians, BritBox is the only way of getting hold of British content. Over here where iPlayer and ITV Hub are both free, and Freeview is still piped into homes all over the country, it could be a very different story.
 

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