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BBC, ITV and Channel 4 consider forming British streaming champion

The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 are said to be in discussions over the formation of a joint streaming service to better compete with the growing threat posed by Netflix and Amazon.

Designed to counter the growing appeal of the US giants early discussions have been entered into by British broadcasters to pool their own content and expertise in a unified offer as opposed to the present free for all.

Reports in the guardian suggest that NBC Universal would also be interested in teaming up, highlighting the seriousness with which established broadcasters are now treating upstart streaming providers.

While no decisions have yet been taken the on-demand platform would be partly positioned as a defender of the UK’s homegrown creative industries from foreign encroachment, offering more full-throated domestic competition to the American giants.

The BBC has enjoyed some success with its iPlayer service but has conceded it is fighting a losing battle against the bottomless pockets of its competitors, with 16-24 year olds in particular spending more time on Netflix in a week than all of the BBC’s broadcast and digital offer.

The latest viewership figures to be published by Barb show that Netflix now has 8.2m UK subscribers, close to double the 4.3m who have signed up for Amazon Prime Video.

Past efforts to team-up have stumbled amid long-standing rivalries between the broadcasters, heightened by the BBC’s desire to retain iPlayer as the master brand, subsuming the smaller All4 and ITV Hub. Other options on the table include bringing the ITV and BBC-backed Britbox to the UK or forming an entirely new service.

BBC iPlayer enjoyed an 11% audience increase in 2017 versus a year earlier, with 272m streaming requests received each month.