UK Markets closed

ITV and BBC's new Netflix rival 'BritBox' will cost £5.99 a month

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Philip Gienister, Kim Fields, and Kevin Nash of the television show "Living The Dream" speak during the 2019 Britbox segment of the 2019 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour. Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

ITV (ITV.L) and the BBC’s new Netflix-like streaming service BritBox will cost £5.99 a month and launch in the UK later this year, the two companies announced on Friday.

ITV and the BBC said on Friday that they had officially signed a deal to launch BritBox in the UK. The pair first announced they were in talks to bring the streaming service, which is already offered in the US, to the UK in February.

The pricing means BritBox will undercut rivals Netflix (NFLX) and Amazon (AMZN) Prime Video on price as ITV and BBC look to catch up in the global streaming wars. Both Netflix and Prime Video cost £7.99 a month in the UK. As part of the deal, ITV and BBC are also expected to remove their content from the rival platforms.

BritBox will let customers stream across multiple devices and aims to show the “breadth of British creativity, on demand, ad free, and all in one place,” ITV said in a statement.

ITV CEO Carolyn McCall called the planned launch of BritBox a “ milestone moment.”

“Subscription video on demand is increasingly popular with consumers who love being able to watch what they want when they want to watch it,” McCall said in a statement.

“ITV and BBC have made, and continue to make, the programmes that both reflect and shape British culture and creativity.

“We now look forward to working together to launch the largest collection of British boxsets ever — bringing the very best in past, present, and future British programming and award-winning content to viewers all in one place.”

BritBox will let subscribers watch boxsets of ITV shows like Love Island and Broadchurch, alongside BBC shows like Gavin & Stacey and The Office. Both networks will also commission new original shows to premiere on the platform.

“I am really excited about the new shows it will commission,” BBC Director General Tony Hall said in a statement.

“With a remit to be daring and different, many future classics will be commissioned and live on BritBox for the future. These are exciting times for people who love quality TV. Importantly, these shows will be truly British, showcasing our culture and telling distinctive stories. It's what makes real British TV so special.”

BritBox has already attracted some controversy due to the fact it will sit alongside regular BBC services, paid for by the compulsory license fee.

"It looks like the BBC are just going to use this service to rinse licence fee payers of even more money by making them pay twice to watch their favourite shows,” Harry Fone, a spokesperson for the TaxPayers' Alliance, told the Express in February.

ITV and the BBC said they are also holding discussions with other British TV producers about potentially putting their content on BritBox.

ITV owns 90% of the BritBox joint venture, but the BBC has the option to build its stake in the business to 25% over time, the companies said. The new project will be run by Reemah Sakaan, who is currently group director of streaming video on demand at ITV.

News that BritBox will undercut rivals on price comes the same week Netflix announced slowing users growth. Netflix shares crashed 10% on Thursday after signing up 2.7 million new customers in the second quarter, against forecasts of five million new subscribers. Analysts blamed recent prices hikes.