Britbox, the online subscription service from the BBC and Sky, is now available on the Xbox console. The BritBox app is available through the Xbox Microsoft Store on Xbox One and Xbox Series X models. But how far will that go to increase the adoption of the service, which lags a long way behind Netflix and Amazon?
BritBox UK claims to offer subscribers the biggest collection of British box sets among online video subscription services.
The service costs £5.99 a month, after a seven-day free trial. It includes archive programming from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5, as well as some original productions, including new series of the satirical puppet show Spitting Image, which at its height in the 1980s attracted audiences of 15 million viewers.
Tom Price, the commercial director of BritBox UK, said: “We are delighted to be able to share the best British entertainment with the Xbox community, just in time for viewers to enjoy a raft of amazing content including Irvine Welsh’s Crime, our ever-popular Britmas collection and our full catalogue of classic and contemporary British telly”.
That begs the question, how many X-box games console users, that do not already have another compatible viewing device, will be anxiously awaiting the arrival of the six-part mini-series adapted from the best-selling Irvine Welsh novel?
BritBox seems to be specialising in commissioning crime dramas, to complement its offering of archive classics like Only Fools and Horses.
In March, ITV announced that BritBox UK had “hit its target of half a million subscriptions” and was “ahead of plan” a little over a year after its launch. By the end of July that had risen to 555,000, or a 10% increase in six months. That is out of around 21 million homes in the United Kingdom that can watch online video services on a television set.
BritBox is available on television models from Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Sony, JVC, Hitachi, and Toshiba, among others, and on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Roku, YouView and NetGem boxes.
BritBox faces strong competition from Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, appearing as a channel on the latter. Netflix has around 15 million subscribers in the United Kingdom, while Amazon Prime Video has around 10 million, according to the BARB Establishment Survey. Disney+ has 3 million.
The Ofcom Technology Tracker survey for the first quarter of 2021 reported that 66% of households used Netflix, followed by 64% for the BBC iPlayer, 53% for Amazon Prime Video, 49% for ITV Hub or STV Player, 41% for All 4 and 25% for My5. ITV Hub+ was used by just 3% and BritBox by just 2%.
ITV reported a £31 million loss on the BritBox UK venture for 2021, compared to a loss of £23 million for the previous year.
BritBox International has 2 million subscribers in the United States, Canada, Australia and most recently South Africa, with the rollout expected to expand to up to 25 countries.