BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, and ITV, the UK’s biggest commercial broadcaster, have announced a new joint venture that sees the two British content powerhouses combine forces to launch BritBox, an ad-free subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service, in the U.S. during Q1, 2017.
AMC Networks, which has a joint venture with BBC Worldwide for cable channel BBC AMERICA, is investing in BritBox with a non-voting minority interest. BBC Worldwide and ITV share an equal majority stake in the joint venture.
This unique streaming service will celebrate the very best of British TV, and offer the most comprehensive SVOD collection of British content in the market today. For decades, BBC and ITV have produced iconic British television series, and for the first time these shows will be combined in a single, curated service allowing fans to find the classic shows they love and discover new hit series.
The BritBox proposition will feature:
An array of drama premieres never-before-seen in the U.S., including New Blood, from acclaimed novelist Anthony Horowitz, Tutankhamun, The Moonstone, and In The Dark, from BAFTA award-winning writer Danny Brocklehurst (Ordinary Lies). Also, season premieres of drama favorites Cold Feet and Silent Witness.
The “Now” category will feature an amazing selection of soaps and series that will be available as soon as 24 hours after their UK broadcast, including much-loved titles Eastenders, Emmerdale and Holby City.
A British classics collection from ITV and the BBC, featuring iconic period dramas Brideshead Revisited, Pride and Prejudice, and Upstairs Downstairs; political thriller State of Play; murder mystery series Inspector Morse and Rosemary and Thyme; favourite sitcoms Keeping Up Appearances and Fawlty Towers; and much more.
BritBox will be available on responsive web, mobile (iOS and Android), Roku, AppleTV, and Chromecast at launch in the U.S. There is also ambition to roll out the service in other international markets. Pricing for the service will be available at launch.
“The BBC and ITV are the two most prolific content producers and broadcasters in British television – both known for their unrivaled, ground-breaking shows,” said Ann Sarnoff, President, BBC Worldwide North America. “BritBox will offer a streaming experience like no other, with thousands of hours of programs across a wide variety of genres – some of which will be available right after their UK broadcast. This will be a must-have service for lovers of British television.”
Simon Pitts, ITV Managing Director of Online, Pay TV and Interactive said, “Britain produces some of the best television in the world and we’re delighted to be bringing the creative might of the BBC and ITV together for the first time in this exciting new streaming service for U.S. fans. BritBox will be the best and most comprehensive British streaming service in the U.S.; a rich catalogue of classic, new, and exclusive shows easily accessible to U.S. viewers all in one place. ITV is now a global production and distribution business and this marks the first step in our international ambitions for BritBox.”
Josh Sapan, AMC Networks President and CEO, said, “The BBC and ITV each have a long history of creating spectacular premium content and some of the most iconic shows on television. We are delighted to expand our current partnership with BBC Worldwide and view this investment as a strategic opportunity for AMC Networks to participate in a digital platform dedicated to offering shows of the highest quality. We think this service will be irresistible to people who value creative content and great television.”
The U.S. market for SVOD services is estimated to reach the $8bn mark by end of 2016, with some 110 million subscriptions. The BBC Worldwide/ITV partnership is consistent with both companies’ stated aims of growing their international pay and distribution businesses, and will also allow British producers and talent to reach a wider audience in the world’s largest media market.
Full details of the BritBox service, including additional titles and price, will be released at launch.
ITV, Kate Beckinsale to star in The Widow, a Harry and Jack Williams series
ITV have announced that Kate Beckinsale will take the leading role in ITV and Amazon Prime Video Drama, The Widow, from acclaimed writers Harry and Jack Williams. The series will be produced in conjunction with Amazon Prime Video.
In The Widow Kate will play Georgia Wells who has her life turned upside-down with a phone-call in the middle of the night. Her husband of over 10 years, Will, has been reported dead after a plane crash in the Congolese jungle.
Three years later, with her old life now a thing of the past, Georgia learns something shocking. Something that will take her to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, looking to uncover the truth about his disappearance.
Still haunted by the past, Georgia is grieving for the man she loved and the life they’ve lost, but she hasn’t given up hope.
The Widow has been commissioned for ITV by Head of Drama, Polly Hill, who said: “I’m delighted to announce Kate Beckinsale’s casting in The Widow. She is perfect for the role of Georgia in what is, as always, brilliant, compelling and surprising storytelling from Harry and Jack Williams. We’re very pleased to have secured the series which is an ITV original commission and co-production with Amazon Prime.”
On behalf of Amazon Prime Video, Brad Beale, Vice President, Worldwide TV Content Acquisition said: “We are thrilled to continue our existing relationship with Kate Beckinsale on the heels of her incredible performances in Amazon Studios’ critically acclaimed films.”
“Harry and Jack Williams have created a powerful story, which will be brought to life by one of the world’s most talented actresses, and we are excited to bring this thrilling series to Prime members around the world,” he added.
Commented Harry and Jack Williams: “Kate Beckinsale is a brilliantly talented actress and we’re thrilled she’s joining us on this journey – we couldn’t imagine anyone more perfect for the role. The Widow is our most ambitious and cinematic piece to date and we can’t wait to bring the dark heart of the Congolese jungle to the screen.”
The Widow will be produced by Eliza Mellor (Liar, The Living and the Dead, Poldark, Death Comes to Pemberley) and will be directed by lead director Sam Donovan (Humans, Liar, Utopia) and Olly Blackburn (Donkey Punch, Glue) who is also directing four episodes of the series. Jack and Harry Williams will executive produce the drama.
The series will go into production in January 2018 in South Africa, Wales and Rotterdam.
The Widow will premiere on ITV before airing as an Amazon Prime Original in the US. The series will be available exclusively on Amazon Prime Video in more than 200 countries and territories for members to watch via the Prime Video app for popular smart TVs, Fire TV, Fire Tablets and Android and iOS phones and tablets.
Channel 9, Married At First Sight 2018 New Series Premieres 29 Jan
What started as something of a social experiment but is now more or less straight reality (but still calling itself a social experiment), Married At First Sight will premiere it’s new series on Channel 9 on Monday January 29 at 7.30pm.
Once again the team – relationship expert John Aiken, neuropsychotherapist Dr Trisha Stratford, and dating and relationship expert Mel Schilling – aim to put relationships to the test in a unique experiment designed to determine if science can predict true love in couples who will get married at first sight.
The experts will undertake the mammoth task of pairing 20 brave singles to create their perfect match as 10 brides and 10 grooms undergo the most intense experiment yet.
The experts will match all our couples on the basis of extensive psychological and neurological testing and profiling.
Each couple meet for the first time on their wedding day, and from the moment they exchange vows their relationships are thrust under a microscope as they experience the highs and lows of marriage at full speed – alongside other couples riding the same rollercoaster.
Once again, the couples will reside under the same roof as relationships are tested like never before.
They’ll get the chance to compare their experiences at often explosive dinner parties – and put their relationships to the test at the most confronting commitment ceremonies we’ve ever seen.
But while some couples will struggle with all the complexities an intense relationship experiment brings, others will find true joy as their fairytale blossoms from first glance.
10 brides. 10 grooms. 10 weddings. Who will find true lasting love?
Netflix, German Supernatural drama Dark given Second Season
Netflix has renewed its first German original production, DARK, for a second season. The acclaimed drama created by Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese has resonated with audiences in Germany and around the world, including the U.S., Brazil, Italy, Turkey, Spain and France among other countries. DARK, a family saga with a supernatural twist, is now one of the most-watched entirely non-English shows on Netflix, a German series that transcends borders to connect with audiences in every country.
Kelly Luegenbiehl, Vice President of International Originals for Netflix, said: “When we first heard about DARK, we realized very early on that we hadn’t seen anything like this show before — in Germany or anywhere else in the world. DARK is a testament that great storytelling transcends geography. We’re excited that our members around the globe are captivated by the mysterious world of Winden, and will now be able to continue to see how the story unfolds.”
Showrunners Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese about the audience reception and the renewal of season two added: “We are overwhelmed by the response to DARK and are thrilled that our story has been a success with a global audience. Viewers have been captivated by the secrets of our protagonists and have taken delight in unravelling the various puzzles that the story presents. To know that we will now embark on our next journey is, for us showrunners, a dream come true. And our fans can be sure that we have plenty of surprises in store for the second season of DARK.”
Producer Quirin Berg concludes: “Jantje Friese, Baran Bo Odar, our wonderful actors and our fantastic team have put an incredible amount of energy into making DARK a unique and gripping series. We thank all of those who have accompanied us on this path. And we thank Netflix for their trust and for the excellent cooperation. We are extremely happy that DARK has by now received such an overwhelming response, both in Germany and around the world, and we are particularly thrilled about the quick decision by Netflix to take it into a second season. We can hardly wait to continue telling the story!”
DARK is now streaming on Netflix, it is set in a German town in present day where the disappearance of two young children exposes the double lives and fractured relationships among four families. In ten, hour-long episodes, the story takes on a supernatural twist that ties back to the same town in 1986.
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