BBC and ITV team up to launch Britbox, a Netflix-style US streaming service

BBC and ITV team up to launch Netflix-style US streaming service

The BBC and ITV are to collaborate on the launch of an ad-free streaming subscription service dubbed Britbox, which will give viewers in the US access to a digital catalogue of new and vintage British content.

The move, which was first rumoured to be in the pipeline in March, will look to boost international revenues for the broadcasters and help British producers and talent to reach a wider audience.

The joint venture will see the BBC's commercial arm combine forces with ITV to bring viewers a mixture of US premieres of dramas like New Blood and first-runs from favourites like Silent Witness.

A Special 'Now' category of the video-on-demand service will host UK soaps including Eastenders and Emmerdale, while as anticipated months ago British classics from both channels such as Fawlty Towers and Inspector Morse will also be available for Americans to binge watch.

AMC Networks, which already has a joint venture with BBC Worldwide for cable channel BBC America, is investing in BritBox with a non-voting minority interest.

BBC Worldwide and ITV will share an equal majority stake in the joint venture, with a statement saying that there is ambition to roll out the service in international markets.

“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 programs 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.”

The US market for streaming services is estimated to reach the $8bn mark by end of 2016, with some 110 million subscriptions according to data from SNL Kagan.

Britbox will face stiff competition from the likes of Amazon Prime and Netflix, with both having doubled their annual expenditure over the past two years, shelling out a combined $7.5bn on programming in 2015 in order to keep eyes on screens.

Josh Sapan, AMC Networks president and chief executive 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."

Full details of the BritBox service, including additional titles and price, will be released when it launches at the start of 2017.

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