There has been a lot of talk about the new streaming service Britbox online but alas not many definitive answers. Here’s a summary of the current status and of course the crucial one how can you watch Britbox and where is it available?
The broadcasting companies in the UK are not known for their collaboration however this seems to be changing. The face of British broadcasting and entertainment is changing, more and more people are looking online for their TV rather than tuning in their television sets. We fire up Netflix, or iPlayer or Sky Go or any one of a host of other streaming services available on our computers, TVs, media boxes and even our phones.
Britbox is an attempt to keep up with this trend and represents the first time that the UK’s two major broadcasters have collaborated on a commercial project. Simply put Britbox is a Netflix style online channel comprised of the largest collection of British TV content available online. At the moment the other large commercial UK TV station – Channel 4 is not included although is has been involved in the initial stages.
So What Exactly is Britbox?
Currently it’s a joint venture between the BBC and ITV and is a monthly paid streaming service which prvides access to the best of British TV. The bulk of it’s content will be an archive from the BBC and ITV which contains literally thousands of shows covering all areas of entertainment. It will also be commissioning new programmes directly for the platform which will be especially appealing combining the skills and expertise of two of the oldest broadcasters in the world.
It’s initially launched in the USA and has already found a solid subscription base among US viewers, estimates are currently around the half a million mark. This is a very positive figure and rumoured to have been among the highest expectations of this service, especially as it has many rivals. There is also a huge competitor from itself – that is US viewers have the ability to watch the BBC directly from the US using a VPN.
The BBC have described the service as
“a new streaming service delivering the best home-grown content to the public who love it best. The service will include everything from old favourites to recent shows and brand new commissions.”
The US version gives us a likely feel for the service which currently includes much of the best content from ITV and BBC. However it should be stressed that it’s primarily an archive and the number of live and current shows will be limited. Having said that there is a special category called ‘Now’ which does include some current content. For example you can watch popular soaps like Eastenders and Coronation Street about 24 hours after they’ve been broadcast in the UK.
This will be welcome news to many people who like to keep up with their favorite soaps. Currently on the US version you can also watch the ITV’s Breakfast programme – Good Morning Britain and a Sunday morning show called This Morning. It’s possible that this may be expanded to more news programmes when Britbox is launched in the UK too though. Although there is the obvious issue that if too much current content like the BBC News is included people will be tempted to not get their UK TV license and rely on this cheaper streaming service.
Both the BBC and the ITV have said that their current catch up services – BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub will not be affected. This suggests that Britbox will not have the same access to newer or current content which are all normally available on the respective archives. It’s probable that the content will move from the archives and then onto Britbox – currently most material is available for 3 months on BBC iPlayer for example.
It does mean that it’s likely that BBC and ITV shows will stop appearing on other streaming services like Amazon Prime and Netflix though. Currently there’s a lot of archive content on these two platforms alone, especially with regards older series like Doctor Who and drama programmes from down the years. It is hoped that switching these too their own platform will persuade many UK TV fans to switch their subscriptions to Britbox instead.
Currently we are not exactly sure when Britbox will launch in other countries. Indeed it’s unclear if it will be available anywhere other than the US, UK and Canada. However this does seem unlikely considering the huge amount of UK expats who miss British TV all over Europe.
It’s difficult to know if the service will be a success although there’s no doubt that it has a solid platform with a huge library of archive material. There are some rumours that other channels like Sky and Channel 4 will join the service although all face a potential conflict of interest from their main channels. Both of these channels may face issues with licensing much of their current output as it’s not always owned exclusively.
It’s a tempting offer though for many people, especially for those outside the UK. The problem is that an inexpensive VPN service like Identity Cloaker is around the same price and offers full access to both live coverage of BBC and ITV plus the full archives. Also you can watch channels not covered by Britbox like Channels 4 and 5 plus channels in other countries all across the world.