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British Broadcasters Battle Netflix for the Future of Television

Last Updated September 25, 2020 8:43 PM
Simon Fletcher
Last Updated September 25, 2020 8:43 PM

The world is enamored with Netflix and this hasn’t gone unnoticed in the U.K. where the two leading TV companies have come together to create a competitor for the American powerhouse.

While this might appear a strange partnership at first glance, it actually makes a lot of sense when looked at from the point of view of the two British broadcasters

Fighting Back Against Netflix Dominance

The motivation for the creation of Britbox is many-fold, but one key driver must have been the BBC’s and ITV’s knowledge that some of the most popular programs shown on Netflix are in fact made by them.

Shows such as Luther, Peaky Blinders, and Planet Earth are all made by the BBC and have big followings all over the world on Netflix. ITV may not have as many shows with widespread international reach, but series like Downtown Abbey, Morse, and Broadchurch all started out as ITV originals.

Netflix has reinvented the television industry and some of Britain’s biggest broadcasters are playing catch-up. | Source: Shutterstock

Netflix has, of course, ramped up its own original programming  in the last few years but taking away homemade shows from them would undoubtedly reduce the subscription channel’s appeal somewhat. If viewers could no longer enjoy the next season of Peaky Blinders on Netflix, they may not automatically cancel their subscription, but there is a good chance that they would sign-up to the new service where they can watch it.

Britbox Already Exists in the US

A surprise to many Brits will be the knowledge that BritBox is already a thing in the U.S.  where the two companies have taken the fight to Netflix and implemented this plan in order to bring the best of British TV directly to the U.S. market.

The BritBox streaming service in the U.S. has over 500,000 subscribers, with BBC director general, Tony Hall, declaring that the project is performing well ahead of expectations.

The Changing Face of TV

The success of Netflix  is something that broadcasters all over the world have had to take notice off and adjust to. The way people enjoy TV is changing.

Modern viewers want flexibility when it comes to what they watch, when they watch, and how they watch. And with younger viewers being brought up on YouTube and Instagram Stories, it’s likely that even more innovation will be needed in the industry in the future.

BritBox is just another example of how the evolving demands of the viewer are dictating the very future of television.


How will Britbox Impact Netflix

In the short term, it’s unlikely that Netflix will be too worried about the arrival of BritBox. Existing licensing agreements for programs such as Peaky Blinders and Luther will be maintained and the main focus may well be on offering BritBox subscribers boxsets of old BBC and ITV favorites.

In the medium term, BritBox will look to be more proactive take the fight to Netflix with original programming of its own.

A Glimpse into the Future

The fact that two major rivals are coming together to take on Netflix is not just an interesting development for the U.K. In the U.S., where YouTube is already making an aggressive play  to take away cable subscribers from the traditional market leaders, this kind of partnership could well be the future too.

Traditional TV markets are historically driven by advertising revenue. These adverts are now the very thing which modern audiences don’t want disturbing their shows anymore.

In this new landscape, out of the box ways to stay relevant, like BritBox, could well become the new norm for broadcasters all over the world.