In a relatively small but significant change to the availability of Doctor Who on UK streaming platforms, it’s been confirmed that classic episodes of the series will still be available on BritBox once that service becomes part of the new ITVX, which launches in November.
ITV bought out the BBC’s share in BritBox earlier this year as part of the preparations for ITVX, their new service which they’re hoping will take on the likes of Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime. ITVX will replace ITV’s current twin offerings of the free ITV Hub (which carries advertising) and paid-for ITV Hub+ (which is ad-free). The broadcaster is using the platform to pioneer a ‘digital-first’ strategy, whereby many shows will debut on the streaming service before being given a terrestrial showing at a later date.
BritBox will be a separate brand within ITVX, with viewers required to sign up to a paid subscription to the rather unfortunately named ‘XPremium’ (no sniggering at the back) to access it. As is the situation now, viewers will still be able to watch ITV shows for free with ads on the non-subscription version.
The end of the BBC’s ownership share in BritBox had prompted questions as to whether the corporation’s programmes would still be accessible on the service, but ITV has now confirmed to TV Zone that “all classic Doctor Who episodes currently available on BritBox will remain available to subscribers once BritBox is integrated into ITVX this November”. A spokesman said the BBC “will continue to be a strong partner for BritBox U.K. and BritBox International, and we have agreed a new long-term content supply deal with the BBC.”
There was a bit of a stir on social media earlier this month when episodes of classic-era Doctor Who briefly turned up on ITVHub before being swiftly removed. It appears someone behind the scenes had jumped the gun, perhaps due to testing for the debut of ITVX.
Among the new shows set to premier on ITVX is A Spy Among Friends, starring Damian Lewis and Guy Pearce, and Nolly, a three-part biographical drama by Russell T Davies about Crossroads actress Noele Gordon which features Helena Bonham Carter in the title role.
Classic Doctor Who has been part of Britbox’s portfolio since 2019, with some animated episodes previously only available on DVD/Blu-ray added last year.
Pricing for the XPremium subscription within ITVX is yet to be confirmed.