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BBC, ITV, AMC pact for BritBox US SVOD service

britboxThe UK’s two largest broadcasters and The Walking Dead cable net AMC are joining forces to launch BritBox, a new US SVOD service that will debut early next year.

The partners said they want to roll out the service in other international markets after the US.

BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the UK pubcaster, and UK commercial broadcaster ITV will share a majority stake in the new venture.

AMC Networks, which already runs BBC America with Worldwide, will be a minority partner.

The service will be a best of British content service, lining up against Acorn TV, the RLJ SVOD service that already has a best of British-themed streaming service programmed with programmes from both the BBC and ITV among others. It has about 350,000 subs.

AMC recently invested US$65 million into Acorn owner RLJ, meaning it will be a part-owner of two US SVOD services programmed with international programming.

Some BBC and ITV titles will be off the table for BritBox as they have are under license to streaming services or channels in the US.

The BBC and ITV did announce several shows they will be running on Britbox including dramas New Blood, Tutankhamun, The Moonstone and In The Dark. Comedy drama Cold Feet and crime series Silent Witness will also feature.

Soaps and series will also be available under a ‘Now’ category on the new service, meaning UK TV staples Eastenders, Emmerdale and Holby City will all be available “as soon as” 24 hours after the UK broadcast.

Catalogue shows from the broadcasters including Brideshead Revisited, Pride and Prejudice, Upstairs Downstairs and Inspector Morse will also be available.

The new service, which rolls out during the first qaurter of next year, will be available over-the-top. No pricing details have been released.

“The BBC and ITV are the two most prolific content producers and broadcasters in British television – both known for their unrivalled, ground-breaking shows,” said Ann Sarnoff, president, BBC Worldwide North America.

“BritBox will offer a streaming experience like no other, with thousands of hours of programs across a wide variety of genres – some of which will be available right after their UK broadcast. This will be a must-have service for lovers of British television.”

Simon Pitts, ITV managing director of online, pay TV and interactive said: “We’re delighted to be bringing the creative might of the BBC and ITV together for the first time in this exciting new streaming service for US fans.

“BritBox will be the best and most comprehensive British streaming service in the US; a rich catalogue of classic, new, and exclusive shows easily accessible to U.S. viewers all in one place.”

Speaking about the international plans for BritBox, he said: “ITV is now a global production and distribution business and this marks the first step in our international ambitions for BritBox.”

AMC also owns the niche US SVOD service Shudder, and 49.9% of US cable channel BBC America (BBCWW has the majority stake, but AMC operates the network).

Speaking about the BritBox investment Josh Sapan, AMC Networks president and CEO, said: “We are delighted to expand our current partnership with BBC Worldwide and view this investment as a strategic opportunity for AMC Networks to participate in a digital platform dedicated to offering shows of the highest quality.”