Is Britbox doomed to fail?

Is Britbox doomed to fail?

Streaming services are all the rage at the minute with Disney+ just released this year (coming to the UK in 2020), it is sure to cope well against the likes of Hulu, Netflix and Amazon. But there is one new streaming service we should be nervous about and that is Britbox. Here’s why.

UK channels simply do not make enough content

It’s a sad but simple fact, the 4 channels that have combined to form BritBox do not make enough new content to warrant paying for it monthly. Do we need to rewatch a previous season of Strictly Come Dancing or The Great British Bake Off? Will we have the entire back catalogue of Eastenders, Coronation Street and Hollyoaks? Would someone want to watch an episode from September 19th 1999 of any of those shows anyway? Of course, I jest in those examples as I couldn’t imagine them having their soaps on the service… But if things get desperate… It seems that these channels have merely created a package to put all of their golden eras shows on and hope people buy-in.

What about the shows that are co-produced?

Will BBC get the sole rights to shows like Fleabag? This was a co-production with Amazon Studios. Do they split it? This is an actual issue for the service. All of their bigger productions are co-produced and are they going to share usage? Will it be on both services? If so, why bother with getting Britbox for that service when you most likely have one or both of the main competitors?

For classic shows, most people in the UK have the DVD’s or Blu Rays

This was an issue long before I-player or ITVplayer etc, came into play. In the UK we have been used to getting shows such as Only Fools and Horses, Blackadder even Doctor Who in a physical format as that was the main and best way to watch those shows. Why on Earth would someone who has the physical version (especially someone who loves all of those shows) then splash out monthly to watch them again, especially with the price of preowned discs nowadays?

They waited far too long

The biggest mistake I can see of all of this is that they waited far too long to release the thing. BBC and all the other terrestrial channels have such a great back catalogue that they could and should have released this 5-6 years ago. If they had, all of their competitors wouldn’t have as much content to battle them with seeing as a lot of those services USED the terrestrial channels own content to grow in those forming years. They needed to be proactive when they had the inkling Netflix was something that wasn’t going to go away, instead they reacted and simply put, it was just too late to make a difference.

Why would someone in the UK pay twice for content?

This is the biggest issue with the Britbox, in the UK we pay the license fee to pay for the production (and of course much, much more) of all of these shows. Now to keep having a digital version of a show on our screens the same people are expected AGAIN to pay for it. That will hurt the subscriber count. Which we won’t really know the full scope of until the summer as trials and the first drop off’s will happen in the first few months of this year.

Not even Sky or Virgin Media want to be involved

The biggest tell is that when they approached a profit savvy company like Sky and Virgin Media, they were turned down/it is looking increasingly unlikely that they will carry the service. They both would have carried out a lot of research on the matter and the fact they didn’t jump at the first opportunity to carry Britbox proves how folly the whole endeavour is.

They won’t attract a young demographic

The aim of most services like this is to capture the younger demographic who will be using online services more and more, even SmartTV apps. The demographic for BBC and ITV is increasingly growing. That is a lot of hope that people aged 30 and up will take on the service, almost too much hope.

A test I carried out was a quick Twitter search to see how Britbox is doing with the public. The mentions are few and far between and of those, not positive. That has to be a worrying sign for the UK market side. The US seems to be more positive towards it, but again, not many mentions at all. That is troublesome.

It is going to cannibalise their own services

IPlayer and ITV Hub are circling the drain because of this. If both services are still operational in 2029 I would be shocked (only in the instance that Britbox is still going). What is there on ITV to make it worthwhile? Also with ITV and Channel 4, they both have ads on those services. that is a further loss in revenue to those companies that they have to hope beyond hope BritBox counters. That is a lot of hope.

BritBox is effectively an online UK GOLD

I’m really not wrong on this… Especially with what they are advertising on it…

But, there is hope

The main and only market Britbox should have been aimed towards was the international market. In North America, it has already reached profitability or is getting close to it. Those are the markets that would jump at this streaming service, not so much in the UK. I think they know this. If not they should know it. International audiences love our shows, as they rightly should, they are awesome.

But, I would imagine for much of the 25+ audience, they already own the series that Britbox is offering. How likely is that internationally? I would say not so much. So, their reliance for at least the next decade on the older shows to keep it going will depend solely on the international market, and time will only tell if that works. They are already a few steps behind the rest.

What are your thoughts on Britbox? Are you a subscriber, is it really worth it for people in the UK or is really just for the international audience?


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