The BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 are close to reaching a deal to launch a new joint streaming service, reports The Telegraph. The joint venture will combine the broadcasters’ programming on one CTV platform.
The new service will reportedly consist of one home screen where all of the broadcasters’ content is available, grouped under categories such as “documentaries” or “dramas”. There will also be links to take viewers to the broadcasters’ existing streaming services, for example, ITV Hub and BBC iPlayer.
The Telegraph reports that talks have been ongoing since the beginning of the year, but have taken on a stronger sense of urgency ahead of an upcoming production of smart TVs in 2023. The broadcasters will be keen to ensure any new joint service has prominence on the home screen of new smart TVs produced.
Ahead of the production of any new smart TVs, the broadcasters may also negotiate deals with manufacturers that would grant the new joint service a button on smart TV remotes.
The distribution deals are expected to begin with smart TV manufacturers initially, before then moving on to other CTV hardware makers like Roku.
The new service will fall under the Freeview banner, which is a joint initiative between the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky and transmitter operator Arqiva.
This isn’t the first time UK broadcasters have attempted to create this sort of product. In 2009, “Project Kangaroo” a bid from ITV, Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide to launch a joint “online TV” service was blocked by the Competition Commission. At the time, the proposed venture was deemed too much of a threat to competition in the emerging UK streaming market.
Twelve years on and that market has changed beyond recognition. Video-on-demand services were then in limited use, and streaming giants like Netflix had not even launched in the UK yet. Contrary to fears expressed in 2009 that broadcasters could dominate the streaming market, it is these companies who are playing catch-up with the US streaming giants.
In an effort to regain ground on the likes of Netflix and Disney+, broadcasters have been increasingly willing to cooperate on joint streaming ventures. ITV, Channel 4 and the BBC already collaborate on the subscription streaming service Britbox.