BritBox keen to grow, but no immediate plans for Seven deal

Digital subscription video-on-demand service BritBox International – a joint initiative between ITV and BBC Studios – believes distribution is important, as it looks to cement itself as the premier provider of British-specific content in an increasingly crowded Australian SVOD market.

When asked whether BritBox was looking to do partnerships deals with Australian networks – particularly with an SVOD-partnerless Seven Network – Moira Hogan, EVP international markets & general manager APAC, told Mumbrella: “Distribution is super important, but we have nothing to announce specifically with Seven.” But Hogan did say BritBox was open to explore deals with local partners.

Hogan said BritBox sees itself as a “complement to other SVOD services”, rather than a direct competitor, saying there is a market in Australia for multiple streaming platforms. Hogan also added there were no immediate plans for original productions in Australia.

Reemah Sakaan, CEO BritBox International, said the traditional ad-free SVOD model had been disrupted recently with the news Netflix was exploring an ad-supported alternative.

“AVOD has seen a resurgence,” Sakaann said. “But there’s great business in a recurring revenue model. It’s a mass impressions game, and the subscription system is a better way to do that.”

But Sakaann said BritBox was continually looking at the new hybrid models and said any future changes would be determined by regional demands.

BritBox first launched in the US on 7 March 2017, followed by Canada a year later. A separately managed UK service was launched on 7 November 2019. Since then, the service has launched in Australia, South Africa, and in the Nordic countries of Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway, through local partnerships in these four countries.

BritBox this week unveiled its most robust commissioning and co-production slate to date that will be coming to Australia.

“At BritBox International, we continue to strive to bring our audiences incredible content. There is no other streamer out there like us, we are unmistakably unique and distinct,” said Sakaan. “As we continue to grow globally, our new team remains creative, imaginative, and passionate about bringing excellent storytelling to screen, which is why we are so thrilled to be announcing our sensational commissioning and co-production line up.”

“I am delighted to be sharing news of these fantastic shows,” said Diederick Santer, chief creative officer BritBox International. “Working with the very best UK producers, we have curated a set of shows which we are confident will excite our existing subscribers, while attracting new audiences to our platforms. Whether a new and surprising take on the mystery genre, a distinctive crime series from one of the UK’s finest playwrights, or a personal story from a National Treasure, these shows epitomise our mission – to bring the best of British TV to a global audience.”

Hogan added: “BritBox in Australia was established around a year and a half ago and now to be able to give Australians a taster of what is in-store at BritBox, with a new suite of incredible talent and titles, is exciting for us. British dramas and comedies still resonate with Aussies, and this announcement shines the spotlight on the compelling offering we have planned for streaming audiences.”

BritBox’s co-productions, commissions and originals coming to Australia

  • The drama series A Spy Among Friends stars Damian Lewis (Homeland, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and Guy Pearce (Jack Irish, Mare of Easttown)
  • Co-production of Three Little Birds written by Sir Lenny Henry (Chef!)
  • BritBox Original, Irvine Welsh’s Crime returns with season two starring Dougray Scott (EverAfter, Mission: Impossible II)
  • The Cleaner will also return, written by and starring Greg Davies (The Inbetweeners)
  • Co-production of Stonehouse stars Matthew Macfadyen (Succession, Quiz)
  • Confessions of Frannie Langton stars Karla-Simone Spence (Blue Story) as Frannie Langton, Sophie Cookson (Kingsman: The Secret Service, The Trial of Christine Keeler)
  • Val McDermid’s iconic detective Karen Pirie adapted for television stars Lauren Lyle (Outlander, Vigil)
  • Gifted crafters come together for new series, Make It At Market with expert craftsman, Dominic Chinea
  • Six-episode crime horror, Passenger, written by Andrew Buchan (Broadchurch, The Honourable Woman) and produced by Sister with BritBox international as co-production partners

BritBox International’s new structure and senior roles

BritBox International, the BBC and ITV joint venture, has also created a new structure, with new senior appointments to help deliver its ambitious market expansion goals, manage a step-change in content investment and secure its position as the world leader in British-specific streaming.

BritBox International (BBI) will move to a two-region structure – BBI North America (covering USA and Canada) and BBI International Markets (covering Australia, South Africa, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland and future new markets), creating new regional leadership roles. BBI has also created a new global acquisition & commercial position. All report to Sakaan and will join BBI’s senior leadership team located across London, New York, and Sydney offices.

Sakaan explained the rationale behind the changes: “We are establishing the best-fit strategy, investment and organisation to align with our vision to become world leaders in British streaming.

“As the business matures, maximising the potential of existing markets, particularly growth in the US and Australia, as well as a building a scalable multi-market, operating and investment model, requires a new management focus. This will enable BritBox to leverage our strength in all territories and to become a global commissioner, buyer, and brand.”

BritBox International now has over 2.6 million subscribers around the world (specific numbers for Australia were not released, but Sakaan said overall BritBox had an industry-low churn rate).

The new roles are:

Chief acquisitions & commercial Officer – Kerry Ball joins BritBox International in this newly created lead role, responsible for group content acquisition and commercial strategy across regions. Ball is a seasoned digital and entertainment executive who has spent 20+ years working at the intersection of content and technology in leading positions at NBC Universal, Stingray, Shine, Discovery, Struum, and Aurra Studios. Ball will be based out of the London office hub.

Ball commented: “Britbox has made incredible progress in delivering such a high quality and authentic SVOD service over the last few years. I am incredibly excited to join the team and further our growth in both acquisition and distribution of world-class British Content”

Moira Hogan takes on her new role with overarching accountability for all international market territories, excluding North America. Hogan will also lead on all markets within the APAC region. Hogan previously served as country manager for the BritBox service in Australia, seeing it through from its infancy through its continuing success story.

Neale Dennett has become SVP international markets & general manager EMEA. Dennett will partner with Hogan on growth in all international markets and lead all markets in EMEA region. Dennett previously held the role of new markets launch director and has been instrumental in the launch of the service in Australia, South Africa and the Nordics most recently.

EVP North America & general manager group marketing services. As well as managing the USA, BritBox’s largest market, this role will oversee BritBox in Canada as well as managing the group wide teams for creative, media buying, CRM and customer services. The appointment of this role will be subject to a future announcement.

These additions to the leadership team follow the hire of Santer as CCO and Matt Gardner as chief financial & operations officer in the last nine months.

BritBox International provides subscribers with thousands of hours of premium British content, including BritBox Originals, exclusive new series and a range of TV classics. From drama, crime and comedy to factual entertainment and lifestyle shows – BritBox brings together the best of British programming, all in one place. With a fast-growing global subscriber base, the streaming service’s recent Nordic launch extends BritBox into eight countries, following highly successful launches in the US, Canada, Australia and South Africa.

BritBox is available on multiple platforms, including via the web, mobile, tablet, streaming devices and connected TVs.


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