ITV chief: BBC iPlayer plans will not impact BritBox

The BBC’s plans to extend the window under which content is available on its iPlayer service will not have a major impact on BritBox, the planned new SVOD JV with ITV, according to ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall.

Speaking on ITV’s latest quarterly earnings call at the end of last week, McCall said that ITV management had been aware of the BBC’s plans for iPlayer.

“We’ve been aware of that for quite a long time and it doesn’t really change our projections,” said McCall.

She said there was a clear proposition in making BritBox the second on-demand window after iPlayer for BBC content and ITV Hub for ITV content. McCall said that this “was not the case previously”, because many programmes would simply disappear from view after dropping out of the catch-up window.

“Consumers would rather know that there’s one place to go and get all of that content rather than be very confused about where it is going to appear at any given time over whatever period it is,” she said.

McCall said that the way consumers viewed streaming was “very different” to their perception of the value of catch-up services.

“They’re quite happy to have library content that would just sit there, because they’re paying for it every month and can watch it whenever they want,” she said.

ITV will make its first original commission for BritBox in the third quarter, ahead of the service’s launch in Q4, but that show will only debut on the streaming service next year. McCall said that ITV and the BBC would build “a very distinctive library of content [for BritBox] as existing licence agreements with other players expire”.

On the future ownership structure of the streaming service, McCall said that ITV would remain the majority shareholder going forwards. The commercial broadcaster currently has a 90% stake with the BBC holding 10%, with an option to increase that to 25%.

She said that “other partners” will likely be added to the venture going forwards. However, she added that ITV did not want “too many partners, because we want it to be as simple and fast moving as possible”. She said the commercial broadcaster would “welcome a couple of other partners”.