U.K. TV giants unveil ‘BritBox’ streaming service to take on Netflix

bbc headquarters
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The U.K’s two leading broadcasters are teaming up to take on Netflix.

BBC Worldwide – the commercial arm of the BBC – and ITV have announced plans for a subscription-based, video-on-demand streaming service for the American market.

Called BritBox, the ad-free offering will launch early in 2017 and include a “rich catalog of classic, new, and exclusive” British-made content.

The service marks the first time for the BBC and ITV to partner in this way, and confirms rumors earlier in the year that the pair were cooperating on such a project.

“This unique streaming service will celebrate the very best of British TV, and offer the most comprehensive video-on-demand collection of British content in the market today,” BritBox said in a release. “For decades, BBC and ITV have produced iconic British television series, and for the first time these shows will be combined in a single, curated service allowing fans to find the classic shows they love and discover new hit series.”

Fawlty Towers and EastEnders

Classic shows already lined up for BritBox include the hit 1970s comedy Fawlty Towers written by and starring Monty Python’s John Cleese, and popular period dramas such as Brideshead Revisited, Pride and Prejudice, and Upstairs Downstairs. Soap fans will be able to follow their favorite characters  in London-based EastEnders, or can head north to Yorkshire for the latest happenings in Emmerdale, with editions from both shows hitting BritBox within 24 hours of broadcast in the U.K.

Similar to Netflix and other competing services, subscribers to BritBox will be able to view content via iOS and Android mobile devices, Roku, AppleTV, and Chromecast, with more platforms to follow.

It’s not yet clear what impact, if any, BritBox’s arrival will have on BBC America, or indeed how it might effect the distribution of British shows among other broadcasters in the U.S., with PBS, for example, having proved a popular home for a number of high-profile shows, ITV’s Downton Abbey and the BBC’s Sherlock among them.

Both the BBC and ITV have offered on-demand streaming services for many years, but both are only available to viewers based in the U.K. Features from both services are likely to be incorporated into BritBox.

Living outside the U.S. but like the sound of BritBox? The good news is that there are plans to roll out the service to more international markets over time, so sit tight.

Pricing for BritBox will be available at launch.

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