Here Comes Britbox

By Gabe Weisert March 6, 2019

Having conquered America, Britbox is now coming for the Brits.

Britbox, a new streaming media (or OTT) service, is launching in the UK later this year. The service comes courtesy of the BBC, which is funded by a licence fee paid by all TV-watching Britons, as well as ITV, an independent British television network. Britbox will feature hits like Bodyguard, Killing Eve and Fleabag, as well as classics like Fawlty Towers, The Young Ones, Absolutely Fabulous and Blackadder.  The service will cost around £5 per month.

This is the SVOD equivalent of a reverse British Invasion. As it turns out, Britbox has already been quite successful in North America, where it has well over 500,000 subscribers. For many North Americans who are profoundly frustrated that they can’t access the BBC iPlayer service (and who are even willing to pay for it!), it’s considered the next best thing.  

So is this a direct response to Netflix? The team behind the service doesn’t think so. “We have never said that this is the British equivalent of Netflix. Netflix is global, it commissions globally,” said ITV CEO Carolyn McCall. “It is complementary to Netflix … We are not a substitute for Netflix.”

Regardless, the Netflix question misses a broader point — this move is an acknowledgment that today, streaming media (or SVOD) is increasingly the preferred standard format for television watchers. What started as a novelty is now the norm.  ITV and the BBC note that more than 12 million households in Britain have at least one SVOD service, with 4 million homes paying for multiple subscriptions.

Our own research confirms these trends. In A Nation Subscribed,’ a UK-wide study of 2,002 consumers conducted by YouGov with Zuora, we found that more than a quarter of the UK population (27%) now subscribes to video streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime or Sky Go. And a significant percentage of that group would be willing to pay for more SVOD services.

So best of luck to Britbox. It has the makings of a true trans-Atlantic success story.

Download “A Nation Subscribed: State of the UK Subscription Economy”