BBC, ITV and C4 planning joint streaming service to take on Netflix

Ben Arnold
(Credit: PA)

The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 are said to be in talks to create a new joint streaming service to take on the likes of Amazon and Netflix.

The Guardian reports that US network NBC Universal is also involved in the talks.

“All options are open, they are early conversations and no direction is firm yet,” a source told the newspaper.

“But they know a video-on-demand platform play would be a true defence for the UK creative industries.”

Another source close to the discussion went on to describe the concept as a ‘public service broadcaster domestic competitor to Netflix’.

According to the report, the BBC wants to use its iPlayer platform as the collective’s ‘master brand’, however, ITV and Channel 4, who already have their All 4 and ITV Hub offerings, are said to be ‘resistant’ to that direction.

The BBC’s commercial arm, BBC Studios, would also be involved.

Recently the BBC admitted that it is losing many younger viewers in the 16-24 age bracket to the likes of Netflix.

“As the trend shifts towards on-demand viewing, the BBC risks being overtaken by competitors,” read a report published by the broadcaster in March.

“Maintaining the reach and time that audiences spend with our output is… difficult when they have so many other choices at their disposal. This challenge is most acute for young audiences.”

Currently, Netflix has 8.2 million suscribers in the UK, with 4.3 million signed up to Amazon Prime.

It’s not the first time that a cross-broadcaster venture has been plotted.

An on-demand service that had been called Project Kangaroo in its development stages, which would have fused the BBC, ITV and C4, was blocked by the Competition Commission in 2009.

Added the Guardian’s source: “My understanding is that it is a bit of a dusting off of Kangaroo, which was a good idea that should never have been blocked. Look at where the market is now.

“Think of it as Kangaroo-plus. Sort of a public service broadcaster domestic competitor to Netflix, but potentially with the flexibility to be broader than that.”

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