BBC Studios (BBCS) and ITV Studios (ITVS) have said they intend to expand the presence of their joint venture streaming service BritBox around the world.
The British content streamer – a 50/50 JV between the two London-based companies – initially launched in the US and Canada in 2017, with an Australian roll-out planned for later this year.
BBCS and ITVS have now said they are looking at expanding the SVOD into 25 further countries across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, South America and Africa. Details of specific countries to be targeted have not been revealed.
Tim Davie, the outgoing CEO of BBCS and future BBC director general, said the UK public broadcaster’s commercial arm was “actively appraising new markets” to introduce the service, while ITV CEO, Carolyn McCall, said the expansion would “firmly establish BritBox as a global premium brand in a rapidly growing sector.”
“Offering subscribers the best and biggest collection of British content has enabled BritBox to rapidly grow in our existing countries and as streaming continues to expand worldwide this roll out will give our distinctive streaming business truly international scale,” she added.
News of the expansion plan comes as something of a surprise, with BBCS execs including distribution chief Paul Dempsey suggesting at MIPCOM last year that there were only a “handful of markets” where BritBox’s British-content focus “could and would be successful.”
At that point, Dempsey said BBCS was not looking to launch a truly global SVOD offering, instead arguing that the company’s “platform agnostic” capabilities meant it could deal with the growing number of global outfits.
BBCS already offers a streaming service in Asia, called BBC player, and last year the company struck a multi-year deal that will see its blue chip natural history programming become available globally via a Discovery-backed SVOD.
In an interview with UK newspaper the Telegraph published on Sunday, Reemah Sakaan, group director of ITV SVOD & SVP of creative at BritBox, said that while the service should not be compared to Netflix, it has the potential to become a serious money maker for both British broadcasters.
“Yes, we can win at being best of British; yes we have rightful place in the world of streaming; and yes, it is a future lifeline in the digital transformation of both broadcasters,” she said.
“In pay TV, the BBC and ITV have less than half a percent of the total market. BritBox is just new revenue, which is diversified outside of advertising. We are here to grow to an adequate size and get a good return on investment.”
The service recently reached the milestone of one million subscribers in the US and Canada, putting it on a par with AMC’s rival British content streamer Acorn TV in North America.