BBC Worldwide, the broadcaster’s commercial arm, and ITV are joining forces with US cable network AMC to launch a new subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service early next year.
Named BritBox, the service will showcase both British broadcaster’s content, including some shows which have never aired in the States. Drama premieres include Anthony Horowitz’s New Blood, which aired in the UK on BBC One, Silent Witness, plus ITV’s Tutankhamun and Cold Feet.
Archive shows on offer will include Brideshead Revisited, Pride and Prejudice, Upstairs Downstairs, Inspector Morse, Keeping Up Appearances and Fawlty Towers. The service will also show UK soaps, including EastEnders, Emmerdale and Holby City, 24 hours after their UK broadcast.
BritBox will be accessible via web browsers, iOS and Android apps and on Roku, AppleTV, and Chromecast, and will take on services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime for a slice of the US SVOD market which is valued at $8bn per year.
ITV and BBC Worldwide will be equal majority shareholders, with AMC holding a non-voting minority share in return for investment. Pricing will be announced at launch and the partners say they hope to roll out the service to other international markets at a future date.
“The BBC and ITV are the two most prolific content producers and broadcasters in British television – both known for their unrivaled, ground-breaking shows,” said Ann Sarnoff, President, BBC Worldwide North America.
“BritBox will offer a streaming experience like no other, with thousands of hours of programmes across a wide variety of genres – some of which will be available right after their UK broadcast. This will be a must-have service for lovers of British television.”
Simon Pitts, ITV Managing Director of Online, Pay TV and Interactive added: “Britain produces some of the best television in the world and we’re delighted to be bringing the creative might of the BBC and ITV together for the first time in this exciting new streaming service for US fans.
“BritBox will be the best and most comprehensive British streaming service in the US; a rich catalogue of classic, new, and exclusive shows easily accessible to US viewers all in one place.
“ITV is now a global production and distribution business and this marks the first step in our international ambitions for BritBox.”
In recent years ITV has snapped up a host of production companies, including the studio behind hits such as Poldark, Teen Wolf and the Scream TV series. BritBox could play an important part in distributing much of this content and further reducing the firm’s reliance on UK-derived advertising revenue.
Josh Sapan, AMC Networks President and CEO, said: “The BBC and ITV each have a long history of creating spectacular premium content and some of the most iconic shows on television.
“We are delighted to expand our current partnership with BBC Worldwide and view this investment as a strategic opportunity for AMC Networks to participate in a digital platform dedicated to offering shows of the highest quality. We think this service will be irresistible to people who value creative content and great television.”
Image: New Blood. Photo: Eleventh Hour Films Ltd / Des Willie