BBC, Channel 4 and ITV plot U.K. streaming service to ward off Amazon, Netflix: report

Netflix series The Crown
"The Crown" is a Netflix original series that's found a big audience in the U.K. (Netflix)

As U.S. SVODs like Amazon and Netflix continue to gain footholds abroad, a group of U.K.-based broadcasters are reportedly teaming up to fight off the invasion.

According to The Guardian, outlets including the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV are having early discussions—which are said to include NBCUniversal—looking into combining their content in a direct-to-consumer streaming service.

As the report pointed out, the public and commercial broadcasters have had similar talks in the past. Last year, those talks resulted in BBC Worldwide and ITV officially launching the BritBox streaming service in the U.S. The $6.99 per month service did not manage to bring in Channel 4, the British broadcaster that’s home to shows like “The Great British Bake Off,” which began as a BBC series.

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Options for three broadcasters include expanding BritBox and including Channel 4, and also launching a new brand with a coinciding streaming service.

The report cited data from Barb that shows Netflix has 8.2 million subscribers in the U.K. and Amazon Prime Video is in 4.3 million British households.

RELATED: BBC’s BritBox officially launches in the U.S.

Amazon has been busy adding new programming rights deals for the U.K. in the past year. In 2017, it expanded its Amazon Channels service to the U.K. and earlier this year, it signed distribution deals in the U.K. for “American Idol” and U.S. Open tennis.

At the same time, Netflix has been steadily growing its international subscriber base, adding another 5.5 million international subscribers in the most recent quarter and giving the company more than 68 million subscribers outside the U.S. (about 125 million total).

To fuel that growth, Netflix has been funneling a massive amount of funding into original and licensed content for its service both in the U.S. and in international markets. The company has already set a content budget of $8 billion for 2018 and last month it announced it was conducting a bond offering to raise another $1.5 billion.

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