BBC, ITV, Channel 4 Joining Forces for New Online Service

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With easy-to-access online streaming services redefining how the world consumes entertainment, several large companies are responding to the media revolution and vying for their slice of the pie.

According to a breaking report in the Guardian, the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4 (the United Kingdom’s entertainment power players) are planning to unveil a streaming service of their own to battle the prominence of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. Per the Guardian’s report, NBCUniversal is also engaged in the talks, as it owns the megahit show “Downton Abbey” and has worked with the companies in prior years to lay the groundwork needed to move into the field of online streaming.

In 2009, the three British companies attempted to launch an online service, Project Kangaroo, which was ultimately regulated and restricted by the U.K. government, citing that the service posed a too-significant threat to the nation’s entertainment market. Specifically, the governmental Competition Commission determined that the collaboration would monopolize the then-developing field of online media.

Now, in 2018, the U.K. has 8.2 million Netflix subscribers and 4.3 million Amazon subscribers, according to a recent report from Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB). Both streaming companies are U.S.-based.

Currently, the BBC and ITV run BritBox, an on-demand, ad-free channel which launched stateside in 2017 with the aim of competing against Netflix. The service gained little traction comparatively.

The BBC also operates an online service, iPlayer, which (the company concedes) British audiences have yet to embrace as enthusiastically as Netflix.

Claiming territory in this media revolution can prove to be tricky because of the rate of innovation. Back in October, Netflix announced that it would dedicate $8 billion toward developing content in 2018, with a focus on increasing original programming by at least 25 percent. Soon after, Disney announced it was acquiring 21st Century Fox, which included taking over the operations of Hulu. By the end of the year, Netflix charged itself with owning 50 percent of its content, as it seems likely that Disney will yank its programming from Netflix to stream on its own services.

It has yet to be detailed what impact the in-the-works online service could have on the development of original content in the U.K.—and jobs for actors and other workers in the entertainment industry. With multiple gargantuan companies sprinting forward in the field, it’s clear that the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4 need to do a lot of catching up to find their hold in the well-saturated online media marketplace.

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