BritBox has launched in the UK, but the streaming service doesn’t feel worth it yet

BritBox is a streaming service that has been available in the US for over two years, and it has north of 600,000 subscribers. Its unique selling point in the US is clear: if you’re a fan of British TV, you’ll find a lot of it on Britbox. Now the service has finally launched in the UK, with a 30-day free trial offer.

The service is a joint venture between ITV and BBC, with programming from both making up the majority of the launch lineup (along with Channel 5), and Channel 4 and Comedy Central UK content to come later.

Right now, however, its USP doesn’t quite make as much sense in the UK, unless you have a particular affinity for classic ITV drama. Given how much great BBC content is already on Netflix UK or the Beeb’s own licence fee-supported iPlayer streaming service, BritBox’s lineup doesn’t immediately strike us as exciting compared to its competitors. 

To take just one example from dozens of shows, you could watch the phenomenal anthology show Inside No. 9 on BritBox, or you could just watch all of it on iPlayer for free. Likewise, while BritBox’s library does seem fairly comprehensive when it comes to British classics like Blackadder, Downton Abbey, Prime Suspect and Inspector Morse, not everything we expected to see is on there right now. You’ll find 11 series of Doctor Who on iPlayer for free right now, but none on BritBox – although by Christmas, over 600 episodes of pre-1989 Doctor Who stories will join the lineup. 

Paying to access BBC shows, meanwhile, is already a contentious issue for some. We won’t get into the politics of the licence fee here – you either think the BBC is worth it or you don’t, or you fall somewhere in the middle. But paying an extra £6 to access new-ish BBC content does feel weird when the BBC itself vowed last month to keep new content on the service for a year, rather than 30 days as it did previously. 

A selection of classic shows that you’d expect to see on BritBox are available on iPlayer right now for free, too – complete box sets of Outnumbered, Gavin and Stacey, Fleabag, Life on Mars, Luther and more. BritBox…