ITV unveils ‘game changing’ streaming service ITVX

Vera1ITV is ditching its ITV Hub platform for a new streaming service, which it claims will be a boon for brands and viewers alike, opening up advertising opportunities as well as airing shows months before they are broadcast on linear channels.

Dubbed ITVX, the scheme is claimed to be the UK’s first integrated advertising and subscription-funded platform and offers viewers thousands of hours of content for free in an advertising-funded tier, or an ad-free subscription service with “thousands more hours of British boxsets from BritBox and other partners’ content”.

ITV says it has bought out the BBC’s 10% stake in BritBox for a “nominal” fee to assume full control over the platform.

Chief executive Carolyn McCall said: “The digital acceleration we are announcing today builds on everything we have achieved in phase one of our ‘More Than TV’ strategy. ITVX will be a free service supported by ads, with a compelling subscription proposition. This is fantastic for viewers – it will provide a simplified and seamless experience.”

McCall insisted the platform will “supercharge” ITV’s streaming business and inspire a digital-first culture at the broadcaster, enabling it to optimise channels and ensure the largest possible audiences.

The free service, which will include advertising, will offer viewers new programme exclusives, ranging from premium ITV dramas, documentaries, US series, comedy and reality shows to blockbuster films. That includes the additional bundling of BritBox, shows from the BBC, Channel 4 and Channel 5 on the subscription tier.

For advertisers, ITV will offer sponsorship packages on exclusive themed channels; 20 channels at launch, including Hell’s Kitchen US, True Crime, The Oxford Detectives, 90s Favorites and The Chase channels.

The service will be launched in Q4 2022 and will have around 15,000 hours of content, compared to ITV Hub’s 4,000 hours.

In response, Dave Castell, general manager, EMEA of The Trade Desk, reckons the model has the potential to be a game changer for the nation’s TV industry.

He added: “ITV has tapped into the importance of consumer choice, giving people the option to watch thousands of hours of quality content for free, or tune into an ad-free experience with a price tag.

“In fact, The Trade Desk’s own research has showed that there’s a strong appetite for free TV amongst Brits – with viewers almost twice as likely to try a new show on a free platform funded by ads, than on a service with a monthly fee.

“With the cost of living crisis kicking in, consumer budgets are set to tighten further and it’s a smart move for streamers to factor this into their strategies. While Sky and Channel 4 work with external partners, ITV has taken a different path, but as approaches evolve, many watchful industry eyes will be following the progress of each major UK broadcaster in the space.”

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