British TV networks are courting American audiences—directly and online.
The BBC and its local rival, ITV, are working together on a streaming service that will allow US viewers to stream new British dramas like New Blood and The Moonstone, that might have been sold in the past on to US channels like PBS or Netflix. The ad-free on-demand platform, called BritBox, is slated to launch in the US in March, and could roll out in other countries down the line, the companies said.
Soaps like Eastenders and Holby City will be on there as soon as 24 hours after they air in the UK; it will also include reruns of classics like Fawlty Towers, the companies announced.
BBC and ITV have not said how much the forthcoming service will cost. But a New York Times analysis (paywall) of similar platforms estimated that subscribers might pay somewhere between $50 and $180 per year, which is on par with platforms like Netflix and HBO Now that go for around $9.99 and $14.99 a month, respectively.
Both broadcasters have already made some of their most popular programs available to American audiences, in part, to cut down on illegal viewing from overseas (paywall). For example, ITV’s Downton Abbey and BBC’s Top Gear are available through US TV networks like PBS and BBC America—a joint venture between BBC and AMC Networks—which have the rights to air them in the country. (AMC will also have a non-voting minority stake in BritBox.) And some shows, like Top Gear, are also available to stream on services like Netflix.
These deals could get in the way of some of BritBox’s offerings, however. Already, one BBC show, the beloved sci-fi series Doctor Who, won’t be available on the service any time soon because of a conflicting agreement. Amazon has the exclusive streaming rights to the program.