ITV eyes ‘two waves’ of BritBox international roll-out
BritBox’s recently announced launch in up to 25 countries will take place in two waves and will enable ITV – which operates the streamer with BBC Studios – to deliver more value from its rights, according to Chris Kennedy, the commercial broadcaster’s chief financial officer.
Speaking to analysts after ITV posted its half-year numbers last week, Kennedy said that the ITV-BBC JV would launch in international markets in “two waves”, with launches in the most promising countries targeted for the coming year, with others to follow later.
“The priority for us at the moment is Australia, which we want to launch towards the end of this year,” said Kennedy. Beyond that, ITV will look at opportunities on a “market by market” basis.
He said that the goal for the streaming venture was to “improve the value of the secondary exploitation of our content and the BBC’s content in each of those markets” targeted, which implied a “detailed market analysis” of each opportunity.
“We need to be sure that we’re creating value by doing it via the BritBox route,” he said.
Speaking on the same call, ITV CEO Carolyn McCall said the JV partners were on track to launch BritBox in Australia in the second half and beyond that, would focus on “a phased rollout” in “countries we have identified where research shows we could launch profitably, managing our SVOD rights much more effectively and driving more value from them”.
She said that the international rollout would be entirely funded by “our share of BritBox US cashflows”.
BritBox lost £23 million for ITV in the first half of this year, which ITV said was consistent with its guidance. The venture is expected to lose £55-60 million for the full year.
The company declined to reveal any subscriber numbers. McCall said that ITV was looking to secure distribution across all platforms, up from the 60% currently, and added that no BritBox original drama had aired on the platform yet, and that the service would be boosted by the arrival of the first BritBox original, Spitting Image, and that of Film4 content later this year.
She said ITV would not reveal numbers until the streamer achieved “a kind of steady state”.
ITV’s other domestic SVOD venture, Hub+, which provides ITV content without advertising, had around 390,000 subscribers at the half-year mark, a reduction year-on-year blamed on the absence of Love Island, lower volumes of content and less demand for portability within the EU.
ITV is trialling an extended window for content on catch-up service ITV Hub over the summer. McCall said that this should not have a significant impact on take-up of BritBox in UK because it was being done in a “balanced” way and because the key selling point for BritBox was the availability of multi-series boxsets rather than “the recency of programmes”.