BritBox, the online video venture led by commercial broadcaster ITV, has launched in the United Kingdom, claiming to offer the biggest collection of British box sets, including classic episodes of Doctor Who, originally broadcast between 1963 and 1989. The BBC is a minority shareholder in the venture. A deal with Channel 4 will bring 1,000 hours of programmes from All 4, but not until Spring 2020. Some Channel 5 programmes will also be available.
BritBox will carry a range of archive programmes, including all six series and specials of Downton Abbey, all three series of Broadchurch, and seven series of Only Fools and Horses.
The service will build a distinctive library of British programming, as existing distribution agreements with other players expire.
BritBox already has the biggest collection of British boxsets, excluding children’s programmes, with 283 titles, compared to 233 on NOW TV, 181 on Amazon Prime Video, and 163 on Netflix, as counted in the last week of October 2019.
All 627 available episodes of classic Doctor Who, originally broadcast between 1963 and 1989, will be available for the first time from Boxing Day, including animated recreations of missing episodes using the original soundtrack, and the original pilot from 1963.
Viewers can also look forward to seeing remastered version of British movies, such as Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps from 1935, and David Lean’s Oliver Twist from 1948.
For younger viewers there will be all the past series of Love Island.
BritBox will also offer a wide range of factual programmes from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.
“BritBox is all about bringing together the best of British creativity and talent in a new digital world,” said Reemah Sakaan, who has expanded her BritBox role in the United States and Canada to lead subscription video services for ITV and is responsible for leading the UK launch.
Alex Mahon, the chief executive of Channel 4, said the opportunity to collaborate as public service broadcasters “extends our track record of partnership and will ensure there is a compelling single destination for the very best high quality, home-grown content.”
The subscription service, at £5.99 a month with a 30-day free trial, will complement the existing online video services of the British broadcasters.
BritBox is only available to residents of the United Kingdom, although they will currently be able to watch if they are temporarily outside the United Kingdom but within the European Union.
BritBox will initially be available on the web and through apps for Apple iOS and Android phones and tablets, as well as Apple TV and Samsung smart televisions. Support for Freeview Play and YouView will be added later in 2019, with more connected television platforms and devices to be added in 2020.