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American fans of British TV know how difficult it can be to find the shows they want to watch. Most of us cobble together some combination of Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Video, PBS, and purchased DVDs (when we get really desperate). The die-hard fans among us even go so far as to buy region-free DVD players so we can buy UK DVDs of shows not released in North America (though sometimes, it's just nice to have one because it can be cheaper to buy the UK DVDs than the US releases).
When the BBC and ITV announced earlier this year that they'd be teaming up to offer a streaming service, I was really excited. I envisioned a massive library of content – and the ability to finally see all those obscure titles I can hardly even find on DVD. As of today's announcement, though, I've downgraded my enthusiasm level to “cautiously optimistic”.
BritBox: Something Great, or More of the Same?
This article in The Guardian makes me wonder if it will be just a slight upgrade to Acorn TV or Hulu. There's quite a bit we can already get on existing services, and I worry that they'll focus on the really popular stuff to the exclusion of the harder-to-find programming so many of us would love to see. One nice thing, though, is that it WILL offer access to some shows within 24 hours of viewing, which will be great if they happen to be the shows you follow.
Personally, I'm hoping we see some of the amazing nature, travel, and history documentaries the British do so well. If they've ever seen what passes for the “History Channel” here, they might just take pity on us. I can watch Cold Feet on Hulu, Amazon, and Acorn TV, but I'd love to be able to watch every season of Coast, Penelope Keith's Hidden Villages, or Grand Tours of Scotland without the hassle of buying DVDs. I wouldn't mind seeing some Escape to the Country on there, too.
So, How Much Will BritBox Set You Back?
Pricing has yet to be released, but it will be revealed sometime in the first quarter of 2017 when the service is launched.. I haven't seen any word on platforms, either. Hopefully, it will be available on Roku and/or Amazon Video for maximum ease of adoption. Regardless of the price and platform, you can trust I'll be subscribing and reporting back to let you know how it is.
Overall, I think this could either be fantastic, or extremely underwhelming. It really just depends on how much programming they offer, which shows are included, what platform it uses, and how much it costs – and we won't know any of that for a little while yet. What about you? Are you excited? Is there anything special you're hoping to see?
You can sign up for updates at the official site HERE.