ITV has announced a new free-to-air channel aimed at a “younger, female audience”.
ITVBe will become the exclusive home of The Only Way is Essex and will also feature acquired content, including the US Real Housewives franchise, which currently airs in daytime on ITV2.
The channel’s launch will herald changes for ITV2 which will be revamped into a channel aimed at16-34 year olds, focusing on scripted series, panel shows and formats and “youth skewing commissions”.
It will also continue as the home of Plebs and The Job Lot.
The broadcaster says ITVBe, which will launch towards the end of the year, will be funded by advertising and sponsorship.
The new channel will be available free on all the major broadcasting platforms, including Freeview, YouView, Sky and Virgin.
Adam Crozier, Chief Executive of ITV, said: “ITVBe will be a terrific new addition to our family of channels. It reinforces our plan to maximise audiences and revenues from our broadcasting business.
“Alongside our recently announced new pay channel ITV Encore, this is another important step forward in our strategy to become the most watched, most loved and most talked about family of free and pay channels for every household and every advertiser in the UK.”
Peter Fincham, Director of Television at ITV, said: “Expanding ITV’s family of channels to introduce a new free-to-air, female skewing channel focusing on entertainment and reality means our viewers will have access to even more great content.
“We identified an opportunity to develop what is currently part of the ITV2 schedule – reality and non-scripted shows, which are very popular with young women and housewives with kids – into a distinct channel proposition, aimed more squarely at that audience.
“ITV2 will continue to be the youngest channel in our portfolio, outside of CITV, and the strategy of bringing more scripted series, both acquired and commissioned, will continue apace, alongside panel shows, formats and other young skewing commissions.”