BritBox to Stream Complete BBC Shakespeare Collection

BritBox, the subscription streaming service from BBC Studios and ITV, will launch the full BBC Television Shakespeare Collection on May 26. This is the first time all 37 adaptations will be available to stream in one place.

The collection includes comedies and dramas such as “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “As You Like It” with Oscar winner Helen Mirren; “Cymbeline” with Robert Lindsay; “Henry VI Part I” with Oscar winner Brenda Blethyn; “The Taming of the Shrew” with Emmy winner John Cleese; and “Romeo and Juliet” with late Golden Globe winner Alan Rickman.

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BritBox is available for $6.99 per month — after an introductory free trial period — on Roku, Apple TV 4th Gen, Samsung, LG and all iOS and Android devices, AirPlay, Chromecast and online. BritBox is also available on Amazon Channels for Prime members and on Apple TV Channels on supported devices.

“Never before have all 37 of BBC’s Shakespeare collection been available in one place, as a huge Shakespeare connoisseur, selfishly I wanted this for myself, I hope everyone feels the same,” BritBox CEO Soumya Sriraman said in a statement. “We continue on our promise to be the only authentic British service available.”

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BritBox Touts Agatha Christie Content as Rival Collects License Revenue

BritBox, the British-themed SVOD service operating in North America and the United Kingdom and co-owned by the BBC and ITV, has secured rights to what it says is the largest collection of Agatha Christie-themed content.

Rights include myriad seasons of “Poirot,” “Marple,” “Partners in Crime” and “Poirot: Mysterious Affair at Styles,” which bowed May 15 in honor of the 100th anniversary of Christie’s first novel.

“Only BritBox could create this Agatha Christie collection — working together with BBC and ITV to bring together all of these celebrated adaptations,” Soumya Sriraman, CEO of BritBox, said in a statement. “As the home of great British mysteries, we couldn’t be more proud to be the true home of the most beloved portrayals of Christie’s famous characters.”

BritBox is releasing Christie-themed adaptations including, “Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?” and “The Seven Dials Mystery,” featuring Sir John Gielgud, in addition to “The Secret Adversary.”

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“I am delighted to see all these shows available in North America on BritBox,” said James Prichard, CEO and chairman of Agatha Christie Ltd. (ACL). “They give a real flavor of the depth and quality of my great grandmother’s work, and I am sure audiences will enjoy them.”

Interestingly, AMC Networks, which owns and operates rival British-themed streaming service Acorn TV, is the majority (64%) stakeholder in Agatha Christie Ltd. AMC reported $6 million operating income from ACL in 2019.

Acorn TV launched in the United Kingdom in Q1 — nine years after bowing in the United States as an alternative to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. The company expects to generate upwards of 4 million combined paid subscribers for its four SVOD services, which include Shudder, Sundance Now and UMC (Urban Movie Channel) by the end of the year.

U.K. SVOD Market to Double Subs in Five Years

It’s a SVOD market in the United Kingdom — regardless of the coronavirus pandemic. New research from GlobalData contends growth in subscription video-on-demand is set to double over the next five years. The total number of SVOD subscriptions is expected to increase from 22.4 million to 44.6 million. Total market revenue is projected to also double to £3 billion ($3.6 billion) in 2024 from £1.5 billion ($1.8 billion) last year.

While the London-based research firm agrees there will be some positive impact on SVOD adoption from COVID-19, it expects this to be outweighed by a combination of lockdown-driven adoption and consumer take-up of new services such as Disney+, Apple TV+, Acorn TV and BritBox, among others.

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“Prior to COVID-19, the SVOD market in the U.K. was experiencing a high rate of growth, with no sign of plateauing,” Joel Cooper, senior director, telecoms market data and intelligence, said in a statement.

The U.K. market has traditionally been dominated by Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, with Comcast-owned Sky’s Now TV in third place. GlobalData now believes Disney+’s impact is expected to be particularly pronounced given its brand power, breadth of premium content and low price.

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In the U.S., Disney+ acquired about 25 million paying subscribers just two months after launching in November 2019, equivalent to around 10% SVOD subscriber market share.

“SVOD in the U.K. is a long way from saturation point,” Cooper said. “The market represents a clear opportunity for existing players as well as potential new entrants.”

Acorn TV Launching in the U.K. on April 29

Taking a page from rival streaming video service BritBox, AMC Networks’ Acorn TV is slated to launch in the United Kingdom on April 29.

Acorn TV, which owns a majority stake in the Agatha Christie literary estate, bowed in the United States in 2011. It now claims 1 million subscribers in North America.

New subs in the U.K. will get an extended 30-day free trial for a limited time. The service will also be available on a number of devices, including Roku, Fire TV, Android and Apple mobile and Apple TV — with Amazon Channels and Apple TV Channels pending.

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Acorn TV will add new content every subsequent Monday, and all series will include English subtitles. After the free trial, Acorn TV costs £4.99 ($6.18) per month or £49.99 ($61.90) per year.

“The United Kingdom has a long-standing tradition of producing first-rate dramas and mysteries, so we’re thrilled to feature so many popular, award-winning programs in one place like ITV’s ‘Foyle’s War’ and BBC’s ‘Keeping Faith,’ as well as introduce U.K. audiences to the charming, British-produced Acorn TV Original ‘Queens of Mystery,” Matthew Graham, GM at Acorn TV, said in a statement.

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For the last nine years, Acorn TV has curated and produced a diverse mix of shows from Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Scandinavia with a reported focus on older female viewers.

“We continue to greatly expand our commission and co-production slate and are extremely excited for U.K. viewers to get the opportunity to see the wonderful ‘Queens of Mystery’ filmed in the beautiful countryside of Kent as well as several other productions later this year, including Irish period mystery series ‘Dead Still’ and New Zealand thriller ‘The Sounds,’ among many others,” added Catherine Mackin, managing director, Acorn Media Enterprises, the UK-based development division for Acorn TV.

BritBox Taking SVOD Platform to Australia

BritBox, the subscription streaming video service targeting older women who like British-themed content, is heading Down Under.

Launched in 2017 in the United States by BBC Studios and ITV, the service bowed operations in the United Kingdom last November. It just announced that the North American service, which includes Canada, had topped 1 million subscribers paying $6.99 monthly.

Launch date and pricing for Australia have not been disclosed.

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“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,” Fiona Lang, GM for BBC Studios ANZ, said in a statement. “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.”

Augustus Dulgaro, EVP, Asia Pacific sales & distribution, global entertainment, ITV Studios, said the BritBox brand’s popularity underscores the demand for niche content targeting specialized audiences.

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Indeed, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and AMC Networks’ Acorn TV all deliver British-themed content, including myriad original productions. BritBox has six originals in its portfolio as well. Acorn TV, launched about the same time as Netflix, has a combined 2 million subscribers with sister property, Urban Movie Channel.

“We look forward to bringing [the service] to Australian fans in 2020,” Dulgaro said.

 

BritBox Tops 1 Million Subscribers

BritBox, the subscription streaming service launched in 2017 in North America by BBC Studios and ITV, March 4 announced it has reached one million subscribers — double the tally from January 2019.

Launched as competition to AMC Networks’ Acorn TV, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video featuring British-centric programming, BritBox ($6.99 monthly) says it targets the “underserved audience of women 45 years and older” with “unparalleled” British premieres.

“By super-serving this segment of the audience, BritBox has gained their loyalty, which is reflected by the low single-digit churn rate, an incomparable metric in today’s multi-SVOD landscape,” the service said in a statement.

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CEO Soumya Sriraman said BritBox content mix of new and classic British TV shows “is a potent concoction” of programming, which remains “unbeatable.”

BritBox’s “NOW” feature includes exclusive premiere series day-and-date with the U.K. premieres. Titles include: “Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special” with the original cast, including James Corden; “Spring Watch,” a seasonal exploration of the U.K.’s most enticing wildlife, “Prime Minister’s Questions,” a weekly series where Members of Parliament pose timely questions to Prime Minister in the House of Commons, and daytime favorite “Good Morning Britain.”

“Today is a real achievement from an ambitious SVOD service,” said Tim Davie, CEO BBC Studios. “We look forward to BritBox continuing on this trajectory.”

BritBox originals and co-productions include, “McDonald and Dodds with Mammoth Screen” starring BAFTA and SAG award winner Jason Watkins (“The Crown”), “The Pembrokeshire Murders,” starring Luke Evans (Fast and Furious), and season two of crime drama, “The Bay,” starring BAFTA nominee Morven Christie.

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“To achieve profitability in less than three years is also a fantastic achievement and is a boost to our international expansion plan,” added Carolyn McCall, CEO of ITV.

The channel recently announced a new commission, “Sister Boniface,” a spinoff of “Father Brown,” created by Jude Tindall and the co-commission with BBC of a second season of the Shaun Pye helmed cathartic comedy “There She Goes,” starring David Tennant and Jessica Hynes.

BritBox classic series include “Mrs. Brown’s Boys,” “MI5,” “Death in Paradise,” “Father Brown,” “Shetland,” “Wallander,” and the established home of the largest collection of Classic “Doctor Who.”

 

BritBox Co-Producing Original Series ‘The Pembrokeshire Murders’

BritBox, the U.S.-based subscription streaming video service co-owned by ITV and the BBC, is co-producing true crime drama “The Pembrokeshire Murders,” starring Luke Evans.

The series, written by Nick Stevens (“In Plain Sight”) and executive produced by Simon Heath (“Bodyguard,” “Line Of Duty”), revolves around unsolved murders in Pembrokeshire, Wales in the 1980s.

“With a strong cast and suspenseful writing, The Pembrokeshire Murders is a perfect combination of classic crime drama and modern storytelling that is a perfect fit for BritBox,” Soumya Sriraman, CEO of BritBox, said in a statement.

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Other BritBox originals include, “Mum,” starring Lesley Manville; “There She Goes,” starring David Tennant; “The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco” with Rachael Stirling and pending series, “The Mallorca Files” and “Sister Boniface.”

Launched in the U.S. in 2017 as competition to AMC Networks’ Acorn TV, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, BritBox has more than 650,000 subscribers. The platform launched in the United Kingdom last November.

The uptick in original programming comes as media reports say BritBox is struggling to secure subscribers following the initial free 30-day period.

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The £5.99 monthly service reportedly impressed just 1.5% of respondents of a survey conducted by Oliver & Ohlbaum Associates to continue paying for the platform. The research company said that equated to about 380,000 households in the U.K., compared to 9.1 million for Netflix.

 

BritBox Now Available on Amazon Fire TV

After numerous delays, British-centric subscription streaming service BritBox U.K. is now available on Amazon Fire TV.

The service, launched in the United States by the BBC and ITV in 2017 in response to AMC Networks’ Acorn TV and Netflix, has more than 650,000 subscribers in North America. It bowed in the U.K. last November.

BritBox is also available on Apple TV, Roku (in the U.S.), Google Chromecast, and Smart TVs from Samsung, Panasonic, Toshiba, JVC, Hitachi and Roku, among others.

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BritBox to Distribute ‘Doctor Who Classic’ Content in the U.K.

BritBox in the United Kingdom will soon include a collection of classic “Doctor Who” content, including episodes, spin-offs, documentaries and related features. The content will be available beginning Dec. 26.

The SVOD platform from the BBC and ITV bowed in the U.K. on Nov. 7 after launching in the United States on March 7, 2017 as competition to Netflix and AMC Networks’ Acorn TV. It now has more than 650,000 subscribers in North America.

A total of 558 “Doctor Who” episodes featuring the first eight Doctors from William Hartnell to Paul McGann, form the backbone of the collection. The collection also includes four complete stories: “The Tenth Planet,” “The Moonbase,” “The Ice Warriors” and “The Invasion,” which feature a combination of original content and animation and total 22 episodes. An unaired story titled “Shada,” which was originally presented as six episodes, has been remixed into a 130-minute special.

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“BritBox becoming the first complete digital home of ‘Doctor Who Classic’ creates a special opportunity for fans and streamers across the U.K.,” Reemah Sakaan, group director ITV SVOD, said in a statement. “We are looking forward to expanding the collection even further by working with the show creators to lovingly restore lost and previously unavailable episodes in the months to come and offering a truly exclusive experience.”

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Additional content includes animated series, “The Power Of The Daleks” and “The Macra Terror”; orphaned episodes, “The Crusade” (2 parts), “Galaxy 4,” “The Space Pirates” and “The Celestial Toymaker,” Doctor Who: The Movie, “An Unearthly Child: The Pilot Episode” and “An Adventure In Space And Time” will also be available on the service, in addition to “The Underwater Menace,” “The Wheel In Space” and “The Web Of Fear.”

“It’s thrilling to partner with BritBox and see all this amazing ‘Doctor Who Classic’ content congregate in one place where subscribers can stream to their hearts’ content — some experiencing the show for the first time whilst others will simply be enjoying it all over again,” said Sally de St Croix, franchise director for “Doctor Who” at BBC Studios.

In August, WarnerMedia’s pending SVOD platform HBO Max announced securing exclusive U.S. streaming rights to “Doctor Who,” including all 11 seasons of the sci-fi hit. As part of Max’s new long-term deal with BBC Studios, the streamer will also be the exclusive domestic SVOD home for future seasons — featuring Jodie Whittaker as the “Doctor” — after they air on BBC America.

“‘Doctor Who’ is one of television’s all-time, most beloved series, on both sides of the pond, and we are happy to be the exclusive streaming stewards for this BBC gem” said Kevin Reilly, chief content officer, HBO Max and president, TNT, TBS, and truTV.

 

BritBox U.K. Expansion Undermined by Sky Cold Shoulder

BritBox, the British-themed SVOD founded in the United States in 2017, has encountered a significant roadblock expanding service in the U.K.

The joint venture between the BBC and ITV has reportedly been given the distribution cold shoulder by Comcast-owned satellite TV operator Sky and its 10 million subscribers.

BritBox, with 670,000 subs in the United States, was looking for Sky to help it gain a foothold in a U.K. market already inundated by Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, with Disney+ coming in March, 2020.

Amy Jones, a former senior content manager with Amazon Prime Video, was hired in January as managing editor of BritBox to improve content programming.

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Sky, which operates online TV service Now TV, has a direct-access SVOD deal with Netflix.

“We’ll continue to discuss new partnerships with a range of content providers, but we remain disciplined in investing in those new partnerships where they clearly deliver additional value to our customers,” Sky said in a statement.

BritBox is reportedly close to securing distribution deals with Google Chromecast, among others.

“We are looking forward to extending the number of partners we have to enable BritBox to get to more and more homes,” ITV said in a statement.

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