BBC Studios buys out BritBox International SVOD from ITV

BBC Studios has taken full control of the BritBox International SVOD, buying out the remaining 50% stake from UK broadcaster ITV for £255 million, or about $322 million, in cash.

BritBox International is a specialty streaming service focused on British scripted content, including mystery and drama, which was launched together by BBC Studios and ITV in 2017. Priced at $8.99 per month or $89.99 per year in the U.S., it also offers current series and soaps, most available within 24 hours after their UK premiere. It’s available in eight countries including the U.S., Canada, Australia, South Africa, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

The service has marked growth, reaching 1 million subscribers by March 2020 and increasing subscribers by over 300% in the past four years to now surpass 3.75 million. In the U.S. it’s expanded distribution including landing on Vizio smart TVs in December. BBC Studios said the SVOD has an enterprise value of around £500 million, or roughly $632 million.

According to BBC, the deal delivers more scale and opportunity for both the streaming service and BBC Studios.

With BritBox International fully under BBC Studios’ control, its becoming part of the company’s Global Media and Streaming division, which BBC said complements its expanding roster of digital and direct-to-consumer services including the BBC website, the BBC’s ad-free documentary streaming service in North America BBC Select, and audio service BBC Podcast Premium.

Leadership changes are coming following the ownership shift, with BritBox International global CEO Reemah Sakaan stepping down. BBC Studios said new leadership plans are in place and will be announced “imminently.”  

In a statement BBC Studios CEO Tom Fussell called the purchase an “important acquisition” for the company.

“We are taking full ownership of a successful, growing service we know well and that fits with our stated ambition to double the size of our business,” Fussell stated. “BritBox International has British content at its heart and it generates and satisfies demand for British shows outside the UK. We will continue to make significant investments in the future to deliver long term value to the BBC.”

As for UK broadcaster ITV, CEO Carolyn McCall said the sale of its 50% stake in BritBox “means ITV is focused on its core strategic goals of continuing to build on ITVX’s success and growing ITV Studios.”

ITV launched its own streaming service ITVX in December 2022, which offers free ad-supported content as well as an ad-free paid subscription, with programming spanning premium dramas, documentaries, U.S. series, comedy, reality shows and films.

As part of the BritBox deal, BBC Studios and ITV extended licensing agreements to ensure a wide range of British content continues to be available via BritBox International programming.

“I am thrilled to further our involvement in BritBox International – it’s a profitable business and a winning proposition,” said BBC Studios Global Media & Streaming CEO Rebecca Glashow in a statement. “We see tremendous opportunity to grow this unique service and take it to even greater heights for its subscribers, with the full power of the BBC behind it.”