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Britbox brand awareness incredibly high, says streaming service chief

Reemah Sakaan denied it is struggling to retain subscribers after their free trial.


BritBox is maintaining subscribers after their free trial, the head of the service has said (Britbox/PA)

BritBox is maintaining subscribers after their free trial, the head of the service has said (Britbox/PA)

BritBox is maintaining subscribers after their free trial, the head of the service has said (Britbox/PA)

Awareness of the BritBox brand is incredibly high and more people become paid subscribers after taking the free trial than not, the group director of the streaming service has said.

Reemah Sakaan said internal figures contradict the findings of a recent survey by Oliver & Ohlbaum Associates, which claimed the service launched by the BBC and ITV to compete with Netflix and Amazon struggles to hold on to viewers once the free one-month trial ends.

Only 1.5% of respondents to the Oliver & Ohlbaum Associates survey said they were paying the £5.99-a-month subscription after the 30-day free trial finished.

But Ms Sakaan said: “Our real-time data shows a different picture but that is not surprising, it’s very early days to be taking samples.

“We don’t talk about our subscriber figures but what we have gone on record to say is we are really pleased with the performance.

“Overall brand awareness is incredibly high and the number of trialists who stay as paid subscribers at the end of their free trial, from our real-time data, is the majority stay rather than the majority leave, which is what O&O sample data showed.”

Asked if the service would ever disclose subscriber numbers, she said such data is “confidential and competitively important to keep within the organisation”, but added: “We are obligated to make sure our investments are well reported so it would be untrue to say never, but certainly at this early stage it would be really unwise for us to do this.”

BritBox will launch its first original commission later this year with the return of Spitting Image.

Spitting Image will return this autumn (Avalon/Mark Harrison/PA)

The series will air this autumn, with Boris Johnson, his chief adviser Dominic Cummings, US President Donald Trump, Beyonce, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the Duke of York to be ridiculed in puppet form.

Programme-makers said: “With the world getting smaller and more turbulent, the time couldn’t be more appropriate for an iconic British satirical take on global events.”

Vladimir Putin, Bernie Sanders, Elon Musk, RuPaul, Adele and James Corden will also get the satirical treatment.

Spitting Image co-creator Roger Law is back on board for the show, which ran for 18 series between 1984 and 1996 and was watched by 15 million viewers in its heyday.

At £300,000 an episode, Spitting Image was TV’s most expensive light entertainment show.

A sketch for the Dominic Cummings puppet (Avalon/Mark Harrison/PA)

The show famously featured Margaret Thatcher in a man’s suit treating her cabinet – “the vegetables” – with contempt, John Major as a grey puppet, and the Queen Mother slugging from a gin bottle.

Ronald Reagan was featured in bed with two red call buttons, one marked Nurse, the other Nuke.

Ms Sakaan denied the service is trying to appeal to older subscribers with the commission, saying: “We think the time is right to reignite the love and passion for Spitting Image and to introduce it to a whole new generation.

“It is more about the fact the world needs a Spitting Image at the moment and we think that is really appealing to all audiences.”

She added the back catalogue of the show is not currently available but she hopes to bring it to the platform.

Donald Trump has been given the Spitting Image treatment (Avalon/Mark Harrison/PA)

Development of the puppets is already under way.

As on previous series, some scripts will be written and new puppets made nearer to airtime.

The show will be produced by Avalon, whose credits include The Russell Howard Hour, Taskmaster, Catastrophe and Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.

Spitting Image will air exclusively on Britbox from autumn, and a second series will follow next year.