ITV Sells BritBox Intl To BBC: What It Means For Viewers

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In another development that could reshape the way British TV is consumed worldwide, ITV has handed over the keys to BritBox International, selling its entire 50% stake to BBC Studios.

This £255 million deal isn’t just about numbers – it’s a shift that promises to redraw the map of British streaming services yet again, potentially affecting millions of viewers across the UK and beyond.

Launched with much fanfare, BritBox aimed to be the digital bastion of British TV, bringing classic gems and contemporary hits from all four public broadcasters under one virtual roof.

Yet, as the streaming wars intensified, BritBox found itself at a crossroads – with ITV taking over the UK version of BritBox, and the BBC now taking over the international version of BritBox.


For UK viewers, the immediate landscape remains familiar, with long-term content deals staying put. But things may change in the future.

With BritBox UK’s migration into the ITVX Premium tier already underway, the promise of a seamless, enriched viewing experience is on the horizon. 

However, this transition also opens the door to potential future shifts in how British favourites are accessed and enjoyed.

BritBox’s Long And Bumpy Road

While BritBox International first made waves in 2017, debuting in the US market, BritBox UK’s story began somewhat later, in 2019.

BritBox International was launched by BBC Studios and ITV, as an attempt to satiate the global appetite for British television, offering an array of British scripted content to fans in North America and beyond.

BritBox shows logo

Its success was marked by rapid subscriber growth, powered by a dedication to delivering high-quality British dramas, mysteries, and comedies.

BritBox International’s strategy was clear: to be the leading British specialist streaming service, bringing the best of British programming to a global audience, with content from across the various British public broadcasters.

In contrast, BritBox UK launched with the aim of providing a comprehensive platform for British content within the UK, emphasizing the collaboration between the BBC and ITV.

It sought to offer a mix of classic programming and new exclusives, from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, catering to the UK audience’s nostalgic love for British TV while introducing fresh content and originals.

BritBox spitting image main screen
Spitting Image on BritBox

However, BritBox UK’s journey has been marked by the shifting sands of streaming preferences and strategies, leading to its upcoming full integration into ITVX.

Clarifying the Confusion: BritBox UK vs. BritBox International

The distinction between BritBox UK and BritBox International has often been a source of confusion.

While both entities share the BritBox brand and a commitment to British programming, their markets, ownership, and strategic objectives are distinct.

BritBox International, with its focus on global audiences, has grown under the joint venture between the BBC and ITV, now moving into a new phase with BBC Studios’ sole ownership.

BritBox UK, on the other hand, has been a domestic endeavour tailored for UK viewers. The BBC originally owned 10% of it – but in 2022, ITV became the sole owner.

Then, when ITVX launched in 2023 (replacing ITV Hub), BritBox UK started its transition into ITVX Premium, signalling the end of its standalone service but not the end of its content offerings.

BritBox on ITVX
BritBox on ITVX

This integration aims to streamline and enhance the viewing experience for UK audiences, providing access to BritBox’s rich library within the broader ITVX platform.

BBC Studios Buys Out ITV’s BritBox Shares

Today, the landscape of British streaming services has undergone another transformation with ITV’s announcement of selling its entire 50% stake in BritBox International to BBC Studios.

This sale, valued at £255 million, is a pivotal move that reflects ITV’s sharpened focus on its UK-based streaming ambitions with ITVX, alongside a commitment to expanding its global Studios division.

The transaction is expected to provide net proceeds of around £235 million, after accounting for loan repayments, accrued dividends, and tax considerations.

Carolyn McCall, CEO of ITV, articulated the strategic underpinnings of the sale, emphasizing the company’s core objectives: “The sale of 50% of BritBox International means ITV is focused on its core strategic goals of continuing to build on ITVX’s success and growing ITV Studios.”

itv logo on phone
Photo: Deposit Photos / Wirestock

For BBC Studios, the acquisition of ITV’s stake in BritBox International represents a significant expansion of its digital and streaming portfolio.

Tom Fussell, CEO of BBC Studios, expressed enthusiasm for the acquisition: “This is an important acquisition for us. We are taking full ownership of a successful, growing service we know well that fits with our stated ambition to double the size of our business.”

Fussell highlighted BritBox International’s core attribute of featuring British content at its heart, acknowledging the platform’s role in generating and satisfying demand for British shows outside the UK.

The Future: What’s Happening To BritBox UK?

With the recent developments surrounding BritBox and ITV’s decisions, British TV fans might wonder how this will impact their viewing habits.

For starters, BritBox UK, as a standalone service, is transitioning into ITVX’s Premium tier. This has already happened last year for new subscribers – but existing subscribers will soon be migrated to ITVX Premium as well.

BritBox ITVX Premium ad
ITVX Premium – with BritBox

This means that if you were subscribed to BritBox UK, your service is moving to a new home within ITVX. 

For viewers, this transition aims to be seamless. You’ll still get to enjoy the BBC and ITV collaborations and the rich library of classic and contemporary British shows.

The key difference is where you access this content. Instead of a separate BritBox app or website, everything will be available through ITVX Premium, which is positioning itself as a one-stop-shop for British programming.

Do remember, however, that BritBox’s content on ITVX is behind the ITVX Premium paywall, which costs £5.99/month or £59.99/year.

What About BritBox International?

The sale of BritBox International to BBC Studios primarily affects viewers outside the UK.

For international subscribers, the service will continue as usual, but with BBC Studios now at the helm, there’s potential for an even broader selection of British content in the future.

This deal ensures that BritBox International remains a key player in bringing British TV to fans around the world.

Long-term Considerations for BritBox

While the immediate changes are clear, what the future holds for the BritBox brand within ITVX Premium in the long run is more open-ended.

According to this week’s announcement, “BritBox UK is unaffected and will still feature BBC content as part of separate long-term agreements”. 

However, with ITV doubling down on ITVX as its all-encompassing streaming brand in the UK, and with the company no longer holding a share in BritBox International – one might wonder how long the BritBox brand is set to survive within the ITVX platform.

For now, however – at least in terms of the available content – nothing is changing for BritBox UK or BritBox International viewers.

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