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BritBox announces Australian expansion, hits 1 million subs in US

ITV and BBC Studios UK-content streamer BritBox is to launch in Australia later this year.

The SVOD service, which was first launched in the US and Canada in 2017, offers an array of UK programming and last year revealed plans to “significantly expand” its offering with more original drama and live events.

It will be operated as a 50/50 joint venture and a local team will be recruited, including a country manager.

Further roll-outs outside of North America have been on the cards for some time, with BBCS’s president of global distribution Paul Dempsey admitting at MIPCOM that the service could work in “a handful” other countries.

Britbox already offers shows in the US such as Death In Paradise, crime drama The Bay and the third season of co-produced drama Mum.

Content offer & launch date

It remains to be seen how content will be shared between Britbox and BBCS’s existing partners in the country. The commercial arm of the UK pubcaster already has extensive relationships with the ABC, which airs Doctor Who, and pay TV operator Foxtel, via which it offers channels including drama-skewing BBC First. The roll-out will not impact existing deals.

Fiona Lang, general manager for BBC Studios in Australia and New Zealand, described the roll-out – whose exact launch date has not been given – as “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.

“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, ITVS EVP of Asia Pacific sales and distribution, global entertainment, said: “It’s great to have a new route to market in Australia for ITV’s best loved British content. We know the powerful combination of UK producers and distributors that the BritBox brand represents has been a consumer hit elsewhere and we look forward to bringing it to Australian fans in 2020.”

Further plans?

Despite the roll-out in Oz, a worldwide launch remnains unlikely. Dempsey has previously told TBI that BBCS is not looking to launch a truly global SVOD offering, instead arguing that “one of our strengths” is that the company can be “platform agnostic”, allowing it to deal with the growing number of global outfits.

BBCS already offers a streaming service in Asia, called BBC player and last year struck a rich multi-year deal that will see its blue chip natural history programming become available globally via a Discovery-backed SVOD.

ITV and the BBC have also launched a UK-focused BritBox service, which offers shows such as BBC comedy Gavin & Stacey and ITV drama Broadchurch. Yesterday the service unveiled its first original, a reboot of satirical puppet show Spitting Image, which last aired almost 25 years ago.

That service, in which the BBC only holds a 10% stake, costs £5.99 ($7.50) a month while the US version costs $5.99. Details of the Australia version are yet to be revealed.

Australia is already home to a swathe of streamers including Disney+, which launched in the country last year ahead of its European roll-out.

Viewers also have access to other recent entrants such as Apple TV as well as local offerings including Stan, CBS-backed 10 All Access and Foxtel Now. Netflix, Amazon and Hayu are also among others on offer.

Britbox’s million milestone

News of BritBox’s launch Down Under comes a day after the service said it has reached one million subscribers in the US. BBCS and ITVS  claim the streamer has been the “fastest-growing targeted standalone SVOD service” in the country since its March 2017 launch.

Broken down by demographic, BritBox said that it “thrives by tapping into the underserved audience of women 45 years and older.” The streamer added that it is “super-serving” this segment and this is reflected by its “single-digit churn rate” which it says is “an incomparable metric in today’s multi-SVOD landscape.”

By comparison to its UK counterpart which serves to present largely library content, the US offers its ‘NOW’ feature. The streamer has also announced the commission of Father Brown spinoff series, Sister Boniface and the co-commission with BBC of There She Goes season two.

Soumya Sriraman, CEO and president of BritBox, said: “This is an incredible milestone for our nimble team at BritBox. Our content mix of known, now, and new British TV shows is a potent concoction of programming  which remains unbeatable.”

Despite hitting this milestone in the US, the service has reportedly failed to make a splash in the UK. Recent research from Oliver & Ohlbaum Associates estimates that while 19% of Brits were interested in the service at launch, only 1.5% – approximately 380,000 – have actually signed up.

Tags: BBC, Britbox, ITV