BritBox

UK broadcasters launch streaming service BritBox

(credit: BritBox)

The new streaming service offers content from ITV, the BBC, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

BritBox, created by ITV and the BBC, marks the UK’s entry into the paid streaming market alongside international giants such as Netflix and Amazon.

Priced at £5.99 per month, BritBox will offer the biggest collection of British boxsets such as Broadchurch, Doctor Who, Gavin and Stacey, Wolf Hall and Downton Abbey.

RTS London reflect on this year's RTS Cambridge Convention

Reed Hastings and Kirsty Wark (Credit: RTS/Richard Kendal)

The late-September event was hosted by the University of Westminster, and chaired by media producer and consultant Aradhna Tayal. It featured Bloomberg media reporter Joe Mayes, London Centre Chair Phil Barnes and James Cordell, a London committee member and first-time attendee at the convention.

The panel noted that one of the key themes throughout was the rise of streaming and whether the already established subscription video on demand (SVoD) companies – with more set to enter the market – will dominate the UK broadcast industry.

Key industry figures discuss what the future holds for linear TV in a world of streaming

Wayne Garvie, Reemah Sakaan and David Lynn (Credit: RTS/Richard Kendal)

Will the future of streaming be defined by SVoD (subscription video-­on-demand) or free, advertising-funded video-on-demand – or can they both prosper? Those were the big questions ad­dres­sed by BritBox launch director Reemah Sakaan and Viacom International Media Networks chief David Lynn.

Speaking on the day that the “best of British” SVoD announced a deal with Channel 5, Sakaan was asked by session chair Wayne Garvie how she was going to “persuade my mum and dad to spend £5.99 a month on BritBox”?

Tony Hall stresses the importance of the BBC in an age of uncertainty

Tony Hall (Credit: RTS/Richard Kendal)

Earlier, the RTS convention had been told that, as a brand, Netflix today enjoyed the same high levels of public trust as the BBC. As for the TikTok-using, mobile-addicted members of Generation Z, the BBC looked to be completely under the radar.

Now it was the time for Tony Hall, the BBC’s Director-General, to respond. He did so in a wide-ranging, troop-­rallying speech, and argued that, in today’s age of uncertainty, characterised by propaganda and disinformation, the BBC and public service broadcasting were more important than ever.

ITV's Carolyn McCall: The importance of PSB news has never been greater for our democracy

Carolyn McCall chairing the RTS Cambridge Convention 2019 (Credit: RTS/Richard Kendal)

Shifting viewing habits, developments in technology and the rapidly evolving competitive landscape are having a fundamental impact on our industry,” argued RTS Convention Chair Carolyn McCall as she opened Cambridge 2019.

But amid the change and uncertainty, which included Britain’s future relationship with Europe and the rest of the world, McCall maintained that television had a bright future.

Mark Thompson warns government policies endanger the BBC at the Steve Hewlett Memorial Lecture

Mark Thompson, President and CEO of The New York Times Company (Credit: Paul Hampartsoumian)

Giving the third Steve Hewlett Memorial Lecture at London’s Westminster University, he accused policy makers of largely concentrating “on tightening the funding pressure and other constraints on the BBC further” including “the disastrous withdrawal of funding free licence fees for the over 75’s” agreed in the 2016 Charter now coming into full effect.  

Carolyn McCall: We want Cambridge to bring in the voice of the consumer

ITV CEO Carolyn McCall (Credit: ITV)

It may be Carolyn McCall’s first RTS Cambridge but she knows what she wants from the convention’s speakers. They should be positive and provocative. She also wants to hear from the voices of the people who consume the content.

“There is no point going into the Cambridge Convention with an attitude of ‘It’s all doom and gloom’. Yes, there are challenges but the opportunities for content creators have never been greater,” she emphasises.

BritBox: Traditional media's answer to US streaming giants

Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman) in Victoria (Credit: ITV)

It seems only a few short years ago that the BBC and ITV were thought of as the titans of British media. But all of us in the UK’s traditional media solar system are getting smaller and smaller in the Apple, Amazon and Netflix universe.” Thus said Lord Hall, Director-General of the BBC, in March, as he unveiled the corporation’s plans for its new financial year.

“We need to find new ways to adapt to the changing needs of our audiences, and we need to be able to do it in real time to keep pace with our global competitors,” he continued.

ITV's Carolyn McCall: "BritBox won't compete with Netflix"

Speaking to the Broadcasting Press Guild this week, McCall covered a wide range of topics, including the uncertain advertising climate sparked by Brexit, comedy and digital news.

On BritBox she said, “The thing that’s going for BritBox is that it’s not American content, it’s not Starz, it’s not Showtime, it’s not HBO, it’s not all that [stuff] you are getting on Sky, you are going to get on Apple,” she said.

“It’s about the British consumer and about British content.

 “This is distinctively British-originated content. It’s highly differentiated.”

A global shift to home-grown

Netflix commissions from Germany, India and Spain

The old saying “Think global, act local” is the new mantra for the Net­flix-led, global tech platforms as they push for ever greater numbers of subscribers. In recent months, Net­flix, Apple and Amazon have all started to open offices, staffed largely by locally grown TV commissioners, in the UK and other non-US markets. Simultaneously, the tech platforms are ramping up local marketing efforts.

Amazon has also jumped into local sports markets, purchasing major live sports rights for the UK, including a Premier League football package and US Open tennis rights.