ITV is to launch a new streaming service offering “thousands of hours” of shows which can be watched with adverts for free or, in return for a monthly subscription, ad-free.
In addition to its own content, the new ITVX service will offer programmes from BritBox – which will be included in the subscription tier – and other content partners, plus a range of advert supported streamed channels available directly through the app.
There’ll also be up to 150 films available on the service at any one time, with a pledge to offer 500 titles across the first year, as well as major sporting events and the finales of reality TV shows which will stream live at the same time as they’re broadcast on ITV’s channels.
The broadcaster has also said it’ll shift to a digital first windowing strategy where “much” of its new content will debut first on ITVX before being broadcast on its linear channels months later.
ITV Hub, the broadcaster’s existing catch-up service, and BritBox UK – which ITV nows owns entirely following a decision by the BBC to give up its 10% shareholding in the venture as of March 2nd – will remain standalone services until later this year when both will be folded into ITVX.
Although it’s given up its stake in the UK version of BritBox, the BBC has signed a long-term deal to continue supplying it with content and ITV says all of the UK’s Public Service Broadcasters remain committed to the service.
It’s unclear whether BritBox’s 733,000 subscribers will see the cost of their subscriptions rise long-term as pricing for the combined service won’t be announced for several months, although during an earnings call ITV Chief Executive Carolyn McCall told analysts that subscribers would continue at their current rates during the transition to the new service.
In a statement 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 adverts, with a compelling subscription proposition.
“This is fantastic for viewers – it will provide a simplified and seamless experience with thousands of hours of free content made up of both library and original exclusive content. The subscription tier will provide a premium offering and includes all of the content ad-free as well as BritBox and future SVOD content partners.
“We are supercharging our streaming business, fundamentally shifting our focus to think digital first, as well as optimising our broadcast channels, by continuing to attract unrivalled mass audiences.
“In doing so we are responding to changing viewing habits, but also the evolving needs from our advertisers. This will enable ITV to continue to be both commercial viewers and advertisers’ first choice.”
Rufus Radcliffe, ITV’s Managing Director of Streaming, commented: “2021 was a record year for ITV Hub and BritBox, giving us strong foundations from which to supercharge our streaming strategy.
“We are investing significantly in new and exclusive programmes which will be free to stream, and also in technology and product design to make the viewer experience and interface a premium one on ITVX.”