BritBox streaming service grows by catering to U.S. women over 45

(Reuters) - BritBox, a streaming service that brings British television to the United States, has attracted more than 500,000 subscribers thanks to growing interest from women over 45 in cities across the country, the company said on Thursday.

A joint venture between Britain’s BBC Studios and ITV Plc, BritBox is one of dozens of niche streaming services trying to lure customers alongside Netflix Inc and Hulu that aim for broad audiences.

BritBox launched less than two years ago with popular British shows such as soap opera “EastEnders” and comedy “Fawlty Towers.” Executives noticed a significant number of sign-ups from women over 45, many of them outside of the large markets of New York and Los Angeles, BritBox President Soumya Sriraman said. The company began advertising on radio and TV shows popular with that age group.

BritBox now has more than 500,000 subscribers, double the number in February 2018, and 57 percent of them are women over 45.

Sriraman said there is a lack of programming for that audience on traditional television, which caters to advertisers who typically want to reach adults 18 to 49.

“We are capturing this under-served audience,” Sriraman said in an interview.

BritBox’s top markets include many smaller cities that do not normally register as audience hubs, such as Greenville, South Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; and Norfolk, Virginia, the company said.

“You would be surprised how big the numbers are of people who just consider themselves fans of British TV, and they seek more of it,” Sriraman said.

BritBox costs $69.99 per year or $6.99 per month in the United States.

The company faces competition from Acorn TV, which began streaming British television in the United States in 2011. Acorn TV is on track to top 1 million subscribers early this year, a spokesman said.

Walt Disney Co and AT&T Inc also are jockeying for consumer entertainment dollars with plans for new streaming offerings. Netflix leads the streaming market with 137 million customers worldwide.

“We are not going to be everything for everybody,” Sriraman said. “That’s not what we are. We are something to somebody and I think we do that really well.”

BritBox offers several episodes within 24 hours of their debut in Britain. That includes crime drama “Vera” starring Brenda Blethyn, as well as news programming such as “Good Morning Britain.”

Other shows on the service include family comedy “Mum” featuring Lesley Manville, “Hold the Sunset” starring John Cleese, and classic comedies such as “Keeping Up Appearances” and “As Time Goes By.”

Reporting by Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles; Editing by Lisa Shumaker