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Britbox gets Ofcom approval as Channel 5 and Comedy Central join launch lineup

Britbox gets Ofcom approval as Channel 5 and Comedy Central join launch lineup

BRITISH NETFLIX WANNABE Britbox has received not one, but two boosts to its ambitious plans to launch a UK service before Christmas. First and fundamentally, Ofcom has agreed to the BBC’s involvement in the service, saying it didn’t believe that the joint venture from Auntie Beeb and ITV would significantly distort the market. Second and more excitingly,

BRITISH NETFLIX WANNABE Britbox has received not one, but two boosts to its ambitious plans to launch a UK service before Christmas.

First and fundamentally, Ofcom has agreed to the BBC’s involvement in the service, saying it didn’t believe that the joint venture from Auntie Beeb and ITV would significantly distort the market.

Second and more excitingly, ITV has signed a deal with Viacom to provide UK produced content from Channel 5 and Comedy Central to the service.

Reemah Sakaan, Group Launch Director for ITV SVOD commented: “We are thrilled to announce that another British Public Service Broadcaster is joining BritBox, ensuring that we offer viewers the very best of British creativity across a variety of genres.”

Britbox launched in the US, allowing 650,000 viewers to access British content without having to sit through PBS pledge drives.

The UK version will cost £5.99 and offer a range of programmes from British broadcasters which have “fallen off” existing on-demand services like BBC iPlayer.

The consortium has taken some flack from independent production companies who have been told that programmes shown on participating linear channels must offer their shows to Britbox first, before going to Netflix or Amazon.

At present, of the ‘legacy’ broadcasters, only Channel 4 hasn’t joined the service. That’s because All4 already has a huge programme library, streamed for free with unskippable adverts. Britbox has an entirely different structure – monthly subscription with no adverts, which would effectively put Channel 4 in competition with itself.

For its part, Auntie Beeb was recently given permission to expand its iPlayer service to include programmes for up to a year after broadcast, after which they will be ‘inherited’ by Britbox.

But British broadcasters are going to have a fight on their hands as streaming media comes of age in 2020, with planned launches from the likes of Discovery, Disney and Apple, all of which will require separate subscriptions. μ

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