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BT Ponder TV Funding for UK Netflix Rival Britbox with BBC and ITV

Monday, June 10th, 2019 (9:06 am) - Score 1,644
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Telecoms and broadband ISP BT is reportedly involved in talks that could see them provide millions of extra funding to support the UK launch of a new internet video streaming service, Britbox, which is backed by the BBC and ITV (broadcasters); this is currently only available to consumers in the USA and Canada.

The service carries popular British TV shows from both of the broadcasters and under the current plans it will also be made commercially available across the United Kingdom during the second half of 2019. Subscribers to the service would be expected to pay around £5 per month for access, which is already somewhat controversial given that many of the programmes on offer have technically been supported by TV licence fee payments (mind you the same argument could be used against commercial DVD/Blu-Ray releases of popular shows but these still exist).

The Britbox service essentially offers a historical archive of TV shows, which makes it different from the short-term nature of the BBC’s iPlayer and ITV’s Hub catch-up solutions that only make recent content available for a limited period of time. In this scenario BritBox only gains access to the TV content once it’s stopped being shown on the aforementioned platforms.

The service is seen as somewhat of a counter-move to the likes of Netflix and Amazon (Prime Video). Indeed it’s widely expected that the BBC and ITV will stop licensing their content to those platforms once Britbox goes live in the UK, although it’s unclear how many people will want to pay out yet another monthly fee for yet another paid streaming service, particularly since many will have already viewed the content over this side of the pond.

Nevertheless the Sunday Telegraph alleges that BT is proposing to invest in Britbox, which could in turn help them to become a “super aggregator” of third-party TV streaming services via their YouView (IPTV) and broadband powered set-top box. YouView originally also started off as a project setup by the big TV broadcasters, although today that platform is mostly used by ISPs (e.g. BT, TalkTalk, JT etc.) to underpin their own pay TV products.

However a deal is by no means certain as there are understood to be differences over the valuation of the venture. On top of that the BBC and ITV have yet to agree their own terms for Britbox’s UK launch, which has reportedly been complicated by the question of rights ownership and the BBC’s plans to expand their iPlayer streaming service (longer catch-up content availability etc.). Suffice to say that nothing is certain.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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8 Responses
  1. Avatar Barney

    Can’t wait to see what their line-up of programmes will be. Will it be all 31 seasons of Last of the Summer Wine and as much Only Fools and Horses as you can indulge in?

    What they will need to do is to provide something different. I am sure most people would rather subscribe to Hulu instead of this.

    • Avatar useless

      Considering the beeb have not made any real decent programming since around the 70s to mid 80s then yes stuff we have all seen a zillion times before rather than anything new and original is about what we can expect. Stuck in the past much like the provider thinking of bringing it to their TV box.

    • Avatar CarlT

      A ray of sunshine as ever useless.

    • Avatar useless

      More realistic than anything. Even if you are a big fan of past beeb stuff like Only Fools and Horses, there is no reason to spend £5 or more a month to watch that. You can download legally each season of that for less than £2 per season if you have services such as Amazon Prime already.

      If you prefer a hard copy you can buy the complete series on DVD now for around £30. (thats what 6 months or less of this useless service will cost you). And you will be able to watch it as and when you please rather than being tied to typical must watch within x number of days this has.

      Hard to be a ray of sunshine when the option compared to those that already exist is a big steaming turd.

  2. Avatar anon

    Whatever helps BT drag their feet on upgrading the infrastructure I guess.

    • Avatar CarlT

      If you could suggest how they can go faster than they are right now I’m sure they’d welcome the information.

      They’re hiring all the appropriate subcontractors they can get their hands on and are training up thousands of their own staff to install fibre once the civils are done.

      Ofcom could allow them to build more quickly and their competitors not using resources would probably help too but the second of those isn’t happening and Ofcom aren’t in a hurry on the first.

    • Avatar anon

      It’s not really a question of “doing it faster” more like actually doing it.

      BT seem more interested in funding sport, which benefits nobody in regards to connectivity.

      It’s like if the Post Office invested in sports. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t help me get my mail.

    • Avatar nona

      Funding from BT sport comes from the retail arm of BT. Capital investment for infrastructure is controlled by OR. The two aren’t related but it is easy to see why someone less knowledgeable about these things would mistakenly believe they are.

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