BBC and ITV to launch paid streaming service Britbox
UK media organisations the BBC and ITV announced this week a vision for a joint paid streaming service offering which is expected to launch in the second half of 2019. The service, called BritBox would be an original streaming service offering an exhaustive collection of British original series and on-demand content.
According to the BBC, the service will host the biggest collection of British content available on any streaming service and will also commission new content from UK companies specifically for BritBox. A similar service was proposed a decade ago. According to a Guardian report, project Kangaroo was a similar multi-broadcaster streaming service proposed in 2009, but rejected due to competition regulations. Now, with Netflix dominating the UK streaming market, the spirit of the project has been reborn as BritBox.
Carolyn McCall, CEO of ITV, commented on the news: "I am really pleased that ITV and the BBC are at the concluding stage of discussions to launch a new streaming service.
"BritBox will be the home for the best of British creativity - celebrating the best of the past, the best of today and investing in new British originated content in the future."
According to the Guardian, ITV has already pledged to invest £65mn into the project, while the publically funded BBC declined to comment.
Revenue from the UK streaming market is expected to reach US$975mn in 2019, according to Statista, and exceed $1.3bn by 2023. Britbox aims to tap into that market, as well as North America - where Britbox has already secured millions of subscribers following its launch in March 2018 - and beyond.
With the UK service expected to launch later in 2019, neither the BBC or ITV has confirmed exact pricing, although they have both issued assurances that it will be ‘competitive’.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”