The BBC and ITV’s answer to Netflix, BritBox is the British broadcasters’ “joint vision” for a streaming service in the UK.
Experts were divided over the likely success of the new service, which faced established competitors including Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, after it launched in the UK in 2019.
However, with internationally renowned British shows including Downton Abbey, Broadchurch, Extras, Love Island, and Wolf Hall, all available to watch on BritBox, as well as original series specifically tailored for the service including Spitting Image and The Beast Must Die, the streaming service has seen a rapid growth in subscriptions since its launch – check out our guide to the best BritBox picks.
In March 2021, after bringing content to subscribers for just over a year, BritBox announced that the streamer had hit its target of half a million subscribers.
ITV’s chief executive Carolyn McCall said at the time: “It’s been a great first year on BritBox, with all of the UK PSBs on board and the launch of our BritBox Originals strategy with Spitting Image. Achieving half a million subscriptions in little over a year from launch puts BritBox ahead of plan and firmly establishes the service in the UK OTT market.”
Read on for everything you need to know about BritBox including how to get it and how much it costs.
What is BritBox?
BritBox is a Netflix-style TV service formed as a joint venture between UK broadcasters, ITV and BBC.
After coming to the US back in 2017, the streaming service finally launched in its home country two years later in 2019.
ITV CEO Carolyn McCall said at the time: “BritBox will be the home for the best of British creativity – celebrating the best of the past, the best of today and investing in new British originated content in the future.”
BBC Director General Tony Hall, meanwhile, described it as “a new streaming service delivering the best home-grown content to the public who love it best", adding: "The service will have everything from old favourites to recent shows and brand new commissions."
When did BritBox launch?
BritBox quietly launched on 7th November 2019 in the UK - following the conclusion of a beta trial phase that had begun in mid-October.
How do I get BritBox?
The BritBox app is also available to download on the following devices...
- Apple TV
- Select Samsung smart TVs
- iPod touch
- Android phones and tablets
How much does BritBox cost?
A BritBox subscription costs £5.99 per month on a rolling contract, or £59.99 per year.
If you were to choose Britbox, which usually costs £5.99 per month, you’d be saving £15 over three months.
Is BritBox available on Sky?
Yes. BritBox joined Amazon Prime Video Channels back in March 2021, making BritBox available to Sky Q customers.
Will Harrison, BritBox UK’s Managing Director, said at the time: “We are excited to bring the very best British entertainment to an even wider audience through Amazon Prime Video Channels, especially as we launch even more original content in the spring, summer and beyond.”
Julian Monaghan, Director of Amazon Prime Video Channels Europe, added: “It’s great that we’re going to be offering UK Prime members access to the biggest British box sets with the addition of BritBox on Prime Video Channels. BritBox is a great addition to our selection of entertainment on Prime Video Channels, giving customers even more choice to find the TV series they love.”
Is Channel 4 on BritBox?
Yes, BritBox signed a partnership deal with Channel 4 in 2019.
The platform brought All 4 to the service in Spring 2020, with new series being available 31 days following transmission of the last episode on Channel 4. Movies courtesy of Film4 arrived on BritBox later in 2020.
What shows are on BritBox?
BritBox features nearly 300 television box sets, from Jane Austen-style period dramas to beloved British comedies, including popular shows like Downton Abbey, Doctor Who, The Office and Upstairs Downstairs.
The platform also features 65 films, including The Inbetweeners 2, Bugsy Malone, Carry on Camping and Oliver Twist.
BritBox also features original series, from The Beast Must Die to Spitting Image.
When do shows move from iPlayer and ITV Hub to BritBox?
ITV shows move to BritBox after 30 days on ITV Hub, while BBC shows spend 12 months on iPlayer before migrating to the new streaming service.
BritBox does take any money from the licence fee to pay for its set-up or to make its new programmes, and by making older archive shows available it is providing a new service to anything that exists.
BBC Director General Tony Hall has compared the situation to the pre-internet streaming era, in which viewers paid a second time to watch shows at home.
"Go back to the world of DVDs," he said at the time of BritBox's UK launch. "When you saw a show, the only chance then to watch it again was months later when the DVD came out, if indeed it came out. And that was the BBC saying, look there's a secondary market, you pay for content after we've shown it. this is just a modern day version of that, and an even better version of that, because it used to be infuriating when you saw a programme on the TV and you couldn't get a hold of it on DVD. Now we put all the content that our license fee payers put in, it'll be there on iPlayer for a year."
How much money have the BBC and ITV put into BritBox?
ITV pledged to invest up to £65m in the joint venture over the next two years at the time of BritBox's UK launch.
The BBC's investment figure is unknown, but Hall has said that they plan to invest "tens of millions" into original content.
Why did the BBC and ITV launch BritBox?
All UK broadcasters are very nervous about the market power of Amazon and Netflix.
There is also growing demand in the UK for such streaming services, with more than 12 million households signed up to at least one. Meanwhile, research commissioned by ITV shows that desire for UK-produced content is high, with 43% of all online homes interested in subscribing to a new service which features British shows. This increases to over 50% in homes that already have a Netflix subscription.
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