BritBox UK Will Soon Change Significantly

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BritBox UK, the streaming service that focuses on classic British TV shows and films, is facing some significant changes – less than three years after its launch. 

The reason for these changes is the recently announced new streaming service from ITV – ITVX, which will replace ITV’s current streaming and catch-up service, ITV Hub, with both free and premium tiers.

While many details remain unknown at this point, we were able to put this guide together, based on ITV’s announcements and the information given to us.

Pricing details, in particular, will only be announced later this year – so a few speculations are in order, as you’ll see below.

BritBox, which is currently a standalone subscription service, is set to be folded into ITVX – and while it will continue to exist as a standalone brand, that brand will only exist within ITVX (similar, perhaps, to the “Star” brand on Disney+).

Britbox

What Is BritBox?

In the UK (there’s a separate US version that predated BritBox UK), BritBox started its life as a joint venture between ITV (90%) and the BBC (10%). 

BritBox aims to be “the home of British TV”, with curated content from ITV, BBC Channel 4 and Channel 5, as well as a growing list of classic British films. 

BritBox UK launched in November 2019, and has seen a somewhat rough start, especially with its device availability – early on, the BritBox app was only available on a handful of streaming devices.

These days, however, it’s available on most streaming platforms in the UK, as a standalone service as well as on Amazon’s Prime Video Channels.

BritBox on Roku
The BritBox Roku App

Recently, BritBox was also added to Virgin Media TV boxes, with Sky and Freeview Play remaining the two major platforms that don’t carry the BritBox app.

A BritBox subscription currently costs £5.99/month or £59.99/year, and you can usually get a free trial (See my review of BritBox UK here).

According to ITV, BritBox UK currently has around 733,000 subscribers and 6,000 hours of British content. 

Financially, in 2021, BritBox UK made a venture loss of £61 million.

What’s Changing For BritBox UK?

Earlier this month, ITV announced ITVX – a new streaming service that will replace ITV Hub.

ITVX Logo

ITVX, which is set to launch before the end of 2022, signals ITV’s new “digital-first” approach. New shows will launch on the service every week, often months before their broadcast on ITV’s linear channels.

In addition to shows produced by ITV, ITVX will also be home to a wide selection of popular US series and blockbuster films, making it a streaming destination for broad audiences.

ITVX will have two tiers: the free one will include 15,000 hours of content (as opposed to ITV Hub’s 4,000 hours), with adverts. The “Premium” tier will offer all this content without adverts.

In addition, the paid Premium tier of ITVX will offer access to BritBox UK and other content partners, adding BritBox’s 6,000 hours of ad-free content to the mix.

Furthermore, we’re told BritBox will no longer produce original content on its own – instead, ITV will produce originals for ITVX.

Existing BritBox Originals (such as Magpie Murders, The Beast Must Die and others) will remain inside the BritBox “category”.

The Beast Must Die BritBox original
The Beast Must Die (Photo: BritBox)

However, a number of these original shows were co-produced with ITV, and these will also be shown on ITV’s free-to-air channels in the future.

One of BritBox’s major successes was the rebooted version of Spitting Image, which was a BritBox exclusive (with some specials also airing on ITV).

Spitting Image britbox
The New Spitting Image (Photo: BritBox)

At this point, however, it’s still unknown whether the programme will return for a third series. If it does, it will apparently be produced for ITVX – like the rest of the previous BritBox originals.

BBC Steps Out Of BritBox UK

Ahead of these changes, and in order “To give ITV greater control over BritBox UK and enable its integration into ITVX”, the BBC has ceased to be a shareholder in BritBox UK, and has sold its 10% stake to ITV.

The BBC will continue to provide content for BritBox, with a long-term content deal, including the 600+ episodes of classic Doctor Who (the BBC also provides content to other streaming services around the world – including Netflix).

Doctor Who Britbox

The other public service broadcasters – Channel 4 and Channel 5 – are also still “committed to BritBox UK, which offers consumers a large library of the majority of PSB British content in one place from the past and recent past”.

Meanwhile, BritBox UK’s chief Will Harrison has decided to step down, and will not be replaced at this time.

Instead, BritBox’s operations will fall under the remit of Rufus Radcliffe, ITV’s MD of streaming.

These are all additional signals that BritBox will indeed be more of a content tile/category within ITVX, and not a major service on its own – again, similar to what Star is on Disney+.

What Happens To Existing BritBox Subscribers?

For the time being – until ITVX launches – nothing is changing for BritBox UK and its subscribers. 

However, once ITVX launches and BritBox UK is folded into it, subscriptions will be done via ITVX. And while we haven’t been able to confirm this yet, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to subscribe to BritBox directly anymore – and will instead be directed to ITVX with its bigger content library.

However, since BritBox UK also offers an annual subscription, it means some subscribers will have an active subscription to it when ITVX launches.

We’re told those existing subscribers will be migrated over to ITVX (presumably at no extra cost, at least for the remainder of their annual subscription), letting them enjoy BritBox’s existing content library, plus ITVX’s additional content.

ITVX A spy among friends coming soon

Pricing details for ITVX haven’t been announced yet. But With BritBox currently costing £5.99/month, and ITV Hub+ (the ad-free version of ITV Hub) costing £3.99/month, we can assume ITVX’s Premium tier will be priced around the £6-£8/month mark, perhaps with cheaper annual deals.

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(Featured Image: Deposit Photos / Monticello)

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