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Can BBC Select Compete in the Increasingly Crowded Amazon Channels Market for British Fare?

BBC Select
(Image credit: BBC)

Both Acorn TV and BritBox have carved out successful niches in the Amazon Prime Video Channels market, with each SVOD service claiming to have reached 1 million U.S. and Canadian subscribers in 2020.

Is there room on Amazon Channels for another subscription streaming service focused on movies and TV shows from the U.K.?

The BBC, which already partnered with ITV in 2018 to launch BritBox, thinks so. It just announced that it will launch a new subscription service, BBC Select, in the Amazon Prime Video Channels, as well as the similarly modeled Apple TV Channels, in early 2021. The offering will be made available for users in the U.S. and Canada. No pricing has been announced yet.

Don’t look for murder mysteries and period dramas on BBC Select. BBC said the streaming service will be primarily programmed with nonfiction programming themed around “culture, politics and ideas.” 

Initially announced programs include Grayson Perry: Big American Road Trip, featuring the eponymous British artist; Brainwashing Stacey, starring well known U.K. news personality Stacey Dooley; and the history-themed Romantic Revolution from Sir Simon Schama. Also featured will be work from documentarian Louis Theroux.

Given this factual focus, BBC Select will also be competing with CuriosityStream and the upcoming Discovery Plus (although it’s not yet clear to us if the latter will be resold through “channels” partners). 

“BBC Select is for those who crave knowledge, new perspectives and programs that are not your standard fare,” said Louise la Grange, general manager and launch director of the upcoming platform. “BBC Select will combine a rich line up of never-before-seen shows in the U.S. and Canada with a prized portfolio of thought-provoking, eye-opening programs that provide context and color to the world we all share—all in one place.”

Added Rebecca Glashow, president of BBC Studios—America: “As we shift our business focus to engaging our fans direct, the digital space offers us the opportunity to bring audiences a portfolio of shows that bring new ideas and perspectives into the conversation. Our research has shown that audiences are looking for an alternative to what is already out there. BBC Select is it.”

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!