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BritBox Eyes American Expansion, but Plans to Avoid Content Becoming ‘Transatlantic Pudding’

Joshua Thiede

Get ready for more prestige British television making its way across the pond, as U.K. streaming giant BritBox is reportedly increasing its efforts in the U.S. market. However, despite its efforts to appeal to more American audiences, the company is hoping to keep what has made it successful while avoiding “transatlantic pudding.”

While the streaming service is making plans to increase its presence in the United States, it is not new to the market, having launched stateside in March 2017. Following the first quarter of the year, BritBox reported 733,000 subscribers in the U.K. and 3.6 million internationally, including more than 1 million in the U.S.

BritBox International recently hired Kerry Ball as its Chief Acquisitions and Commercial officer, whose NBCUniversal and Discovery experience should help with the proposed changes.

In addition to the new hire, BritBox International (BBI) is creating a two-region model with BBI North America — covering the U.S. and Canada — and BBI International Markets — focusing on Australia, South Africa, Central and Eastern European (CEE) markets, and future expansion. The moves are designed to position BritBox as the “world leader in British streaming.”

“Compared to the shades of similar competition that’s hotting up, we’re distinct and complementary and we know there are lots of people out there who have never heard of us,” said BritBox CEO Reemah Sakaan. “We need to introduce ourselves to this swathe of people and then open up the aperture. The engine only works if the U.S. works so this whole multi-market model has to have that at the heart of it and it will always be there.”

Even as the streamer pushes into the North American market, it still has reservations about incorporating certain ideas and themes into its content. The British TV model is very different than the traditional American version, but does lineup more with what has been happening on streaming: Shorter episode counts, more self-contained storytelling, a focus on nuanced narratives rather than big-budget, action setpieces.

Referring to potentially watered-down content as “transatlantic pudding,” Chief Creative Officer Diederick Santer clarified that BritBox is open to ideas from across the pond as long as the pitch has universal appeal. The move into new markets means that BBI needs to develop a wealth of new programming, and BritBox is already at work on adding to its library of international content.

Unlike its competitors, the streamer is focusing more on authenticity than big budgets, targeting mystery and crime genres that appeal most to their expanding audience. BritBox is also rounding out its programming with a few higher-cost offerings including “Three Little Birds,” a six-part series about familial trials and adjusting to life in a new country. Other popular shows such as “The Cleaner” and “Crime” return for a second season, tapping into the crime-centric programming that should make inroads into worldwide markets.

“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,” Santer said. “Whether a new and surprising take on the mystery genre, a fresh and distinctive crime series, or a personal story from a National Treasure, these shows epitomise our mission - to bring the best of British TV to a global audience.”

BritBox

BritBox is a hub for hundreds of TV shows and films produced in the UK. Enjoy your favorite classics like Doctor Who (1963) and Mr. Bean (1990), new original series like Sticks and Stones (2019) and There She Goes (2018), and watch special live events, tune into premieres, and keep up to date with current affairs and soap operas streaming direct from the UK. Oftentimes programming that premieres in the UK can be viewed internationally at the same time via the service.

BritBox only allows for one profile, but this “Standard” ($6.99) plan is 100% ad-free, supports offline downloads, features extensive parental controls (and some limited programming for children), and has a selection of over 150 films from a broad range of genres. Enjoy Britbox on devices up to 1080p on any of the devices listed below. Though niche, if you’re looking for excellent programming direct from the UK - both classic and current - BritBox is the service you want.