BritBox International (BBI), the streaming service co-owned by U.K.-based ITV (ITV -0.60%) and BBC Studios, has restructured its business and says it wants to become the world leader in British content streaming. However, both BBC Studios and ITV already have standing relationships with AMC Entertainment Holdings (AMC 3.16%), which could prove problematic, especially as AMC focuses on exponential growth.
Creating distinct markets and fresh content
BBI recently announced it was separating its business into two distinct units: BBI International Markets, which oversees Australia, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, South Africa, and all future territories; and BBI North America, which covers the U.S. and Canada.
Speaking at an event to publicize the change, BBI CEO Reemah Sakaan said she thinks the North American division will be key to the streamer's overall success. As part of this strategy, Sakaan has suggested the company will expand its offerings so that it's not solely repackaging content from its parent firms. In a conversation with Deadline, Sakaan said BBI is open to pitches from U.S.-based production outfits, noting that any collaborations would have to work across various markets.
BBI's goals may complicate AMC's ambitions
In its last quarterly earnings call, AMC noted its strategy of operating multiple streaming platforms "that appeal to audiences with distinct affinities and passions" has proven fruitful. The firm said its diversified offerings, which include Sundance Now, the horror-centric Shudder, and foreign content service Acorn TV, have inspired customer loyalty and kept churn rates low. AMC has also cited this approach as it looks to more than double its subscriber count to as many as 25 million by 2025.
Of course, the "distinct affinities" AMC references include its deep slate of British content. The company has licensed and co-produced dozens of shows set in the U.K., many of which are direct partnerships with ITV and BBC Studios. In addition, AMC and BBC Studios jointly own and operate BBC America.
However, with BBI making North America such a central part of its operations, it's feasible that ITV and BBC Studios may pare back relations with AMC. After all, for BBI's owners to continue partnering with a rival streamer would surely undermine its stated goals.
AMC has a stake in BBI
Adding another wrinkle to all of this is the fact AMC has a minority stake in BBI, albeit one with no voting rights. Of course, the complicated relationship between BBI and AMC has been there from the beginning -- historically, Acorn TV operated as a direct competitor, exclusively offering British programming. But now that BBI is making a push to become the main place for U.K.-based shows, it's possible AMC now regrets taking a silent holding.
Of course, whether competition from BBI will affect AMC's ambitious growth projections remains to be seen. BBI does not provide subscriber numbers, making it impossible to draw comparisons with AMC's subsidiaries. However, if ITV and BBC Studios do pull back on licensing arrangements and co-production deals, it could be a sign that AMC will have to develop new transatlantic partnerships if it wants to hold on to anglophile subscribers.