British TV streaming service BritBox launches in U.S.

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Adding to the plethora of streaming services on the market, BBC Worldwide announced the launch of its subscription-based, video-on-demand service called BritBox, arriving today. The service offers a large catalog of British television series to U.S. users, many for the first time, at a cost of $6.99 per month.

The service was previously announced in December, but without details about its full lineup, pricing or an exact launch date.

Now, those further details are available.

BritBox will be home to a combination of classic programs as well as those that were previously only available to U.K. audiences, in an advertising-free format.

This list of U.S. subscription video-on-demand premieres includes comedy/drama “Cold Feet;” buddy cop procedural “New Blood;” crime procedural “Silent Witness;” “Tutankhamun,” about the discovery of King Tut’s tomb; and detective series “The Moonstone.” “NW,” a story of two friends adapted from Zadie Smith’s international best-selling novel, will arrive this spring.

In some cases, new episodes will hit the service only a day after being aired overseas, the company says.

Other shows arriving on the service include “Miss Marple,” “Inspector Morse,” “Sherlock Holmes,” “Poirot: The Early Cases,” “Prime Suspect,” “Scott & Bailey,” “Cracker,” Rosemary & Thyme,” “Dalziel & Pascoe,” “Are You Being Served?,” “As Time Goes By,” “Keeping Up Appearances,” “Blackadder,” “The Office” (Ricky Gervais version, of course), “Gavin & Stacey,” “Sharpe,” “Absolutely Fabulous,” “Upstairs Downstairs,” “Brideshead Revisited,” “Desperate Romantics,” “Fawlty Towers” and “Bleak House,” among others.

In total, there are more than 2,000 of hours of programming available at launch. A BritBox spokesperson says this number will change, as new shows are “added daily.”

Shows are organized on the service in simple groupings. You can browse shows by genre (Comedy, Drama, etc.) or through curated categories. For example, the “Now” category will include the British soaps and other shows that are available 24 hours after their U.K. broadcast, like  “EastEnders,” “Emmerdale,” “Holby City,” “Casualty” and others.

Meanwhile, the “Our Favourites” section will help new users get started with suggested “playlists” of content.

The “Very British Beginnings” playlist includes shows featuring actors like Daniel Craig, Emily Blunt and James Corden early in their careers. Other playlists include “Best of British Comedy,” “Iconic Detectives” and “Literary Adaptations.”

For U.S. users, the service may be a difficult sell. Many U.K. titles are unfamiliar to those this side of the pond, and several of the classic series are on other platforms.

Meanwhile, U.S. users already have so many streaming options to choose from these days, from on-demand services like Netflix, Amazon Video, HBO NOW and Hulu, to newer live TV services like PlayStation Vue, AT&T DirecTV Now, Sling TV and, now, YouTube TV. And there are other add-ons everywhere, too, like the premium cable channel Showtime, streaming services for kids like Noggin or PBS Kids, those devoted to movies like FilmStruck and more.

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BritBox was developed in partnership by BBC Worldwide and U.K. broadcaster ITV — both of which have an equal majority share in the new joint venture. AMC Networks, which also has a joint venture with BBC Worldwide for the cable channel BBC America, is involved in the project, as well. However, AMC has a non-voting minority stake.

A free trial is available for new users, before the $6.99 per month pricing kicks in. The service will work on web, Apple TV, iPhone, iPad and Android mobile phones and tablets at launch. Roku and Chromecast support will be added soon.