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In two years of operation, BritBox has snagged more than 650,000 subscribers in North America with its “best of British” lineup of drama, soaps, unscripted shows and live programming. Now that it’s lifted the lid on its plans to launch in the U.K. later this year, the question for co-owners ITV and the BBC is whether the service will succeed on home turf, where Netflix – which faces losing “The Office,” “Sherlock,” and “Love Island,” as the BritBox owners take back their shows – has already made inroads.
The international version of BritBox is a joint venture between ITV and BBC Studios. At home in Britain, ITV has more skin in the game with a 90% stake; the launch is a key part of CEO Carolyn McCall’s plans for Britain’s biggest commercial broadcaster. Pubcaster BBC will not fork over any cash for its 10% share, but has the option to invest money to boost its stake to 25%.
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Brits are now seasoned SVOD streaming customers, but BritBox will be one of an increasing array of choices. “They’re saying the right things: British content focus, binge viewing, original shows,” said Ed Barton, chief entertainment analyst at London-based Ovum. “But there are a lot of questions, and it will be launching into a very competitive market for subscription video services in the U.K. I’m also a little surprised at how much the initial share split favors ITV. Starting with a 10th of the venture, how aggressively is the BBC incentivized to make Britbox work?”
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Ratings agency BARB estimates that, as of the end of March, there were 13.3 million overall SVOD subscribers in Britain. Netflix had an estimated 11.5 million, Amazon about 6 million and Sky’s NowTV about 1.6 million. (Many Brits subscribe...
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