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08 March 2019

Streaming, UK-style - The BBC and ITV join forces to tackle the US giants (Part Two)

Tom Evans

Tom Evans
Director | Products and services | London

Following on from yesterday’s blog, we continue to explore the impact of BritBox UK, a new SVOD offering, amongst promises from The BBC and ITV that BritBox will become the unrivalled home of British programming. Many argue that the UK’s largest SVOD provider, Netflix, is still in a great position: their data-driven approach and excellent content personalisation algorithms, are some of the best around, but The BBC, in particular, has form, with iPlayer proving hugely popular with online audiences. However, it is clear that the key battle ground for everyone will be centred around high quality content.

Recently, the BBC suggested that it could produce 18 series for the cost of one series of Netflix’s The Crown, whilst achieving higher ratings and reaching a greater proportion of the UK adult population. Given their historical competency in delivering great programming, traditional broadcasters and media houses may be stronger competitors than it first appears against their cash-rich US counterparts.

The main challenge facing the BritBox service lies in the ownership of rights and intellectual property. Much of what the BBC now produces is only partly owned by the Corporation, and some is not owned at all. It will likely be hard work to convince independent producers to bypass the allure and cash of global streaming services for a more niche and targeted BritBox offering. This is also true of potential BritBox partners Channel 4 and 5, and could restrict the level of unique content on such platforms. To combat this, the BBC may have to lean more heavily on past content, with ITV and ITV studios providing newer content in the short term.

If the BBC and ITV can convince enough people that BritBox’s content offering is worth paying for, it could be a great success and pave the way for a new relationship between two historically competitive organisations. A recent piece of analysis by Enders suggests there is appetite for additional SVOD services in the UK, a promising sign for BritBox. The platform could be a very effective way for the broadcasters to distribute unique, next-generation content, such as Ultra HD sports and drama, yet the battle will surely be won or lost by the content that audiences can view. It’s worth remembering that the BBC began the streaming trend with the hugely successful BBC iPlayer so it has the experience in this space to deliver a product people want. If only they had a Time Lord to help them…

Read part one of this blog series here.