ITV and BBC Studios are to invest up to £20 million over three years in their equal joint venture BritBox Australia, which is due to launch before the end of the year. The question that raises is whether it will be enough to support the ambitions of the British online video subscription service in the Australian market.
ITV SVOD Australia Pty Ltd, a wholly-owned indirect subsidiary of ITV plc, agreed to invest AU$17.7 million in The BritBox AustraliaPartnership over a period of three years. BritBox Australia is a 50:50 joint venture partnership established in Australia with BBC Studios, which will provide equal funding.
The online video subscription service is due to launch in Australia as part of plans for international expansion of the BritBox service.
BritBox was first launched in the United States in March 2017, followed by Canada in February 2018. By March 2020 it had a million subscribers.
BritBox launched in the United Kingdom in November 2019, with the BBC taking a 10% stake, with the option to increase this to 25%, with ITV holding the remainder. Channel 4 has a three-year distribution deal to provide programming, including fifty films from the FilmFour stable, but has not taken an equity stake.
ITV has yet to reveal any subscriber numbers for the United Kingdom but has described adoption as “on plan”.
Australia is the next market in which BritBox will launch, although there are plans to expand the service to 25 more countries across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, South America and Africa.
Moira Horgan has been appointed as country head of BritBox for Australia, joining the venture from Network 10, now owned by ViacomCBS, which promotes its own online video service, currently known in Australia as 10 All Access.
Stan, an on-demand service owned by Nine Entertainment, has gained over two million subscribers since its launch at the start of 2015.
Foxtel, the pay-television provider, has launched its own online subscription service, called Binge.
That coincided with the launch of Disney+ in the Australian market, in which Netflix has already been very successful, as has Amazon.
How well the British offering will fare, with comparatively modest investment, remains to be seen. There is certainly a market for British programming but promoting a direct to consumer service may mean forgoing other distribution revenues.