The Desk appreciates the support of readers who purchase products or services through links on our website. Learn more...

BBC Studios buys ITV stake in Britbox International

The commercial arm of the BBC will spend around $321 million to take full control of Britbox's U.S. and Canadian streaming services.

The commercial arm of the BBC will spend around $321 million to take full control of Britbox's U.S. and Canadian streaming services.

Britbox offers a wide variety of shows from the BBC, ITV and other content partners. (Courtesy image)
Britbox offers a wide variety of shows from the BBC, ITV and other content partners. (Courtesy image)

The British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) commercial arm BBC Studios is buying out peer broadcaster ITV’s stake in their streaming-focused joint venture Britbox International, the companies confirmed on Friday.

The announcement was made in a regulatory filing that affirmed BBC Studios will spend £225 million (around $321 million) to acquire ITV’s 50 percent stake in Britbox, giving BBC Studios full control of the streaming service.

As part of the deal, BritBox International CEO Reemah Sakaan will leave the company in the near future, with a new executive leadership team expected to be announced by the BBC in the coming days. She will remain with Britbox through the transitional period, the BBC said.

The deal values Britbox International at just north of £500 million (around $631 million).

“This is an important acquisition for us,” Tom Fussell, the CEO of BBC Studios, said in a statement. “We are taking full ownership of a successful, growing service we know well, and that fits with our stated ambition to double the size of our business. Britbox International has British content at its heart, and it generates and satisfies demand for British shows outside the UK. We will continue to make significant investments in the future to deliver long term value to the BBC.”

Britbox International primarily distributes its content through regional variants of the Britbox streaming service in the United States and Canada, with other territories receiving a version of Britbox that is operated through separate businesses. Britbox UK, which is entirely owned and operated by ITV, is not part of the deal and is unaffected by the business changes.

In a statement, Sakaan said Britbox U.S. and Canada has around 3.75 million streaming subscribers.

“To take an idea from a post-it note to 3.75 million passionate subscribers around the world, has been a career thrill I couldn’t be more proud of,” Sakaan said on Friday. “ITV and BBC Studios have been nurturing shareholders and I know BBC Studios will continue to harness the successful and ambitious DNA of what we have created.”

Britbox U.S. and Britbox Canada bring a number of beloved British series to North America, including popular soap operas like “East Enders,” “Emmerdale” and “Coronation Street”; dramatic series “Downton Abbey,” “Merlin” and “Five By Five,” comedies “Keeping Up Apeparances,” “Mrs. Brown’s Boys” and “The I.T. Crowd” and original series “Payback, “Archie” and “Irving Welsh’s Crime.”

“I am thrilled to further our involvement in BritBox International – it’s a profitable business and a winning proposition,” Rebecca Glashow, the CEO of BBC Studios’ Global Media and Streaming divisions, said on Friday. “We see a tremendous opportunity to grow this unique service and take it to even greater heights for its subscribers, with the full power of the BBC behind it.”

BBC Studios is becoming an increasingly-important part of the BBC’s overall revenue, with the international arm grabbing around £2.1 billion (around U.S. $2.6 billion) through its licensing and distribution deals in 2022. It is operated as part of, but otherwise separate, from the domestic BBC operation, which is funded primarily through a tax on British households that watch television.

Get stories like these in your inbox, plus free breaking news alerts on business and policy matters involving media and tech.

Get stories like these in your inbox, plus free breaking news alerts on business and policy matters involving media and tech.

Photo of author

About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
Home » News » Industries » Streaming » BBC Studios buys ITV stake in Britbox International