Ofcom's Sharon White adds her voice to the calls for 'British Netflix'

"I remain convinced that collaboration is vital to the success of our industry"
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Ofcom CEO Sharon White has called on UK public service broadcasters to form a combined catch-up service to rival the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Speaking at the Outside the Box conference in London, White said: "This year Ofcom has been encouraging UK broadcasters to collaborate to compete. Harnessing the power of technology to capture the audiences who have moved online. 

"I remain convinced that collaboration is vital to the success of our industry," said White.

She went on to say that iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and My5 have tens of millions of registered users between them and that a common platform could "combine the pulling power" of Broadchurch, Blue Planet and Bake Off.

"It would make it easier for viewers to access content across a range of devices, with a single login," said White.

"Sharing data could provide unprecedented insights for investors, commissioners and advertisers. It could place them at the forefront of the technological revolution that is transforming TV."

White admitted that UK PSBs are great at innovation, but at the moment "they are taking different paths."

She discussed the BBC's plans to include more box-sets on iPlayer, something that Ofcom has said the Corporation must properly assess in terms of the value and potential impact on other broadcasters.

"The BBC has shown its ability to form a successful partnership with ITV through their joint streaming service in the US – BritBox. One wonders whether a ‘Brit Player’ for the UK could take off, potentially running alongside their existing brands," she said.

"As the national broadcaster, we’d expect the BBC to take the lead on forming such partnerships as it has done successfully to date. And for our part, Ofcom has to be a forward-looking regulator that supports the future success of UK TV, firmly rooted in the online world."

White concluded her speech by telling the audience that Ofcom believes the future of British television can be one of "collaboration, adaptation and renewal."

"The sea-changes of recent years will not be the last," she warned. "Nor can anyone be sure what competition and technology lie over the horizon. But while we cannot hold back the tide, our broadcasters can swim more strongly with it – by working together."

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