The BBC and ITV have banded together to launch their own subscription streaming service in the US. They've teased "BritBox" before, but now it's actually here, for $6.99 per month on the web, Apple TV and Android (Roku, Chromecast and iOS apps are in the works.) If you've wanted a Netflix equivalent for Top Gear, Doctor Who and The Great British Bake Off, however, you'll be sorely disappointed. At launch, the service is being propped up by older classics such as Miss Marple and Sherlock Holmes (the one starring Jeremy Brett, not the Benedict Cumberbatch reboot.)
The two companies have, however, promised to release episodes of new and ongoing shows 24 hours after their British broadcast. These are mostly soaps, unfortunately -- think EastEnders, Emmerdale, Holby City and Casualty. Most of the BBC's heavy-hitters, it would seem, are being left out to ensure BBC America -- the cable and satellite channel joint-owned by BBC Worldwide and AMC -- remains attractive in the States.
That's not to say BritBox has no value, however. You'll find award-winning comedies such as Blackadder, Absolutely Fabulous and Gavin & Stacey (the show James Corden co-created, co-wrote and starred in). It's also the exclusive home for the complete series of Sharpe -- the Napoleonic Sean Bean extravaganza -- and will serve as the US premieres for the BBC's fresh crime drama New Blood, and ITV's Tutankhamun. All told, the Britbox team says there are "thousands" of hours to peruse. The problem, of course, will be quality, rather than quantity. If the library is packed with "filler" content, few people will want to pay for a monthly subscription.