How is BritBox different from other streaming services? CEO Reemah Sakaan shares insights

BritBox is a niche streaming service available in South Africa that allows users to watch British content and other originals on demand.

While South Africa’s streaming market isn’t as saturated as some global ones, with the availability of major players such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, as well as the local streaming giant Showmax; there’s still a significant amount of competition.

So how does BritBox aim to differentiate itself? What is some of the unique content users can expect?

I spoke to BritBox International CEO Reemah Sakaan and here are some of the insights she shared.

What makes BritBox different?

britbox south africa
Image credit: Britbox

When asked about BritBox’s strategy to differentiate itself in the local market, Sakaan noted that the focus is on providing unique British content.

“From day one we really knew that when we were building BritBox that trying to do what any of the other guys are doing probably wouldn’t work. And so BritBox is something is quite distinctive, rooted in British original content,” Sakaan said.

“Within that, we are a multi-genre service, so sort of all that is British entertainment. Overall, British content has moved so much more into the mainstream.”

BBC Originals and HBO content have proven this in the past few years. Several British productions have become major hits, including Sherlock and Game of Thrones.

“British is a byword for quality,” Sakaan added.

“We know [British content] best, we own it. We’re born of the BBC and ITV, so that genuine heritage and DNA and our access to content operates in a different way to services that may buy some British content.”

The service has been available in South Africa for a bit over a year and seeks to grow as an option for the increasing number of cord cutters. Since users can cancel anytime and there’s no long-term commitment, they can feel confident in the usability and flexibility of plans.

How does BritBox determine what content to introduce?

Speaking of British content, the prevalence of unscripted comedy shows is particularly notable in the region’s entertainment, with hits such as The Great British Bakeoff, QI, and comedy panel shows attracting a significant audience.

But much of this content isn’t on BritBox. Why is this the case?

“What most people watch is scripted [content] and that’s what has probably been the most demanded content.”

BritBox has successfully launched panel shows in some of its other markets and it refreshes its slate of content based on what local audiences are gravitating towards.

But Sakaan says that this doesn’t rule out experimenting with the content in future.

“There are lots of shows we haven’t taken yet, there’s lots of headroom to try new things.”

In its first year in South Africa, the platform launched 38 new and exclusive series in the local market. It has also refreshed its schedule regularly to provide additional content to users.

While this may be a smaller catalogue than some streaming giants, Sakaan says that a smaller scale can help users discover content rather than being overwhelmed by it.

“It’s about [rolling out content] in a way that makes sure that every show gets the right attention, that people know that it’s there […] and you give people enough time to watch it before launching the next new original,” she said.

“Overall, BritBox is a more curated service. It really is about careful selection of the things we think people watch rather than a very very large video jukebox.

That doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of content, however.

“I did the maths and you would have to watch every day almost for a year, for 12 hours a day, to get through the service content.”

Upcoming BritBox releases

More BritBox Originals are on the way over the next few months, with new originals and additional seasons of popular series. This includes new BritBox Originals Stonehouse and The Confessions of Frannie Langton coming next year, as well as Sanditon Season 3.

If you’d like to see what the streaming service has on offer, make sure to visit the BritBox website.

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