It’s a phrase no Aussie wants to hear but yet another streaming service is planning its entry in Australia. It’s called BritBox and it’s already available in the UK, the US and Canada. Australia is next on its horizon and here’s what we know about it so far.
What is BritBox?
BritBox is BBC and ITV’s shot at creating a streaming service that hosts a range of British classics as well as some newbies thrown in for good measure. These include shows such as Doctor Who, Black Adder and Broadchurch and it’s expected they’ll be apart of the service when it launches.
Dr Marc C-Scott is a lecturer in screen media at Victoria University and he told Lifehacker Australia that while we might groan at the thought of another streaming service, it was a more unique entry in the market compared to what we’ve had in recent years.
“It’s probably got a slightly different market than most of the other streaming services because it has [a focus on] British content,” Dr C-Scott said.
“Most of the other content that we’re seeing is much more focused on US content.”
When will BritBox launch in Australia?
The exact date is not yet known as such but BritBox has made no secret of its intentions to launch a service on Australian shores. Back in March, it announced it was planning to release the service in Australia during the second half of the year.
Fiona Lang, BBC Studios ANZ general manager, said at the time the move came off the back of success in North America as well as the UK.
“There’s a real opportunity to build on the momentum and brand that has been established in North America and to make Britbox part of BBC Studios’ future strategy in Australia,” Lang said in a press release.
“Complementing our existing partnerships in the region, Britbox will draw on our vast combined catalogue of acclaimed British content and will deliver it directly to Australian audiences via a proven and seamless streaming service.”
When it does launch, it will mark the fourth streaming service to arrive in the country in as little as 12 months. Disney+ launched in November 2019 and has experienced serious success mustering up 1.8 million subscribers in just three months, according to Roy Morgan. Later that month, Apple TV+ was made available to Australians but its impact has been minimal when compared to Disney.
Foxtel too has re-joined the ring with another streaming service, Binge, aimed at capturing the streaming generation who largely shunned Foxtel Now’s ageing service.
Where BritBox fits into this equation will be an interesting space to watch.
How much will BritBox cost and what will it include?
It’s not yet known how much the service will cost for the moment but we can estimate based on its pricing overseas. In the US, it costs users $US5.99 a month while viewers in the UK have to pay £5.99. Those prices converted to Australian dollars leave the potential monthly cost somewhere between $9 and $11.
Dr C-Scott believes the price point is vital to its success or failure as an option in Australia.
“I think now that we have so many streaming services in Australia, we’re starting to get a really good indication of where each of these new players sit [in terms of price],” Dr C-Scott said.
But the balance between price and the content it contains is also a key factor. Without a compelling content library, including exclusive and original programming, no one’s going to sign up or make the switch even if it is affordable.
What sort of content can I expect on Britbox?
While we don’t have a crystal ball, we can make some educated guesses as to what might end up on the platform. With BritBox being a joint BBC and ITV venture, you can expect a range of excellent British shows from old classic like Doctor Who and Midsomer Murders to modern day favourites such as Downton Abbey, Fleabag, Killing Eve and Peaky Blinders.
Dr C-Scott said BritBox’s content had stronger brand awareness than what other providers such as Binge offered thanks to BBC.
“Unlike HBO and CBS, Australians are probably a bit more familiar with BBC as a brand,” Dr C-Scott said.
Those aforementioned shows, however, are already available on existing streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Stan and ABC iView. When BritBox first announced it was coming to Australia, it told Mumbrella it wouldn’t affect its existing deals with Foxtel and the ABC, and would instead be planned as a complementary streaming service. That means, on launch anyway, it’s not likely to claw back all BBC and ITV content like we saw with Disney+.
“I think any new player who’s coming into a market where they’ve got distribution deals are definitely going to try and work out which is the best avenue to continue,” Dr C-Scott said.
“Do they continue those distribution deals when they expire? Or is it better for them to hang on to that content as exclusive content, and then put it onto their streaming platforms.”
Dr C-Scott explained the new platform, whenever it arrives, will need time to workout its place in the market to then be able to assess the deals.
For now though, with no new announcements since March and local hirings still ongoing, BritBox remains on the near horizon for now. That will give Australians plenty of time to test out Binge and whatever other new services rear their head in the short term before the British entrant makes its arrival.
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