ITV has announced the launch of ITVX, the UK’s first integrated advertising and subscription-funded (AVOD/SVOD) platform, “later this year”. Viewers will be able to choose to watch thousands of hours of content for free in an ad-funded tier or trade up to a subscription service which provides all that content ad-free, in addition to thousands more hours of British boxsets from BritBox and other partners. The price of a subscription has not yet been announced.
In a step change to its traditional approach, ITV will now adopt a digital-first windowing strategy, premiering much of its new content first on ITVX before arriving six to nine months later on ITV’s linear channels.
"The digital acceleration we are announcing today builds on everything we have achieved in phase one of our More Than TV strategy” said ITV Chief Executive, Carolyn McCall. “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. his will enable ITV to continue to be both commercial viewers’ and advertisers’ first choice.”
Ad-funded content will include premium ITV dramas, documentaries, US series, comedy and reality shows and blockbuster films. Viewers who opt for the subscription service will get all content ad-free, and will also have access to BritBox, which showcases the biggest streaming collection of UK series from BBC, Channel 4 and Channel 5. BritBox recently surpassed 733,000 subscribers.
ITVX will also have an ever-changing selection of exclusive themed channels. This will consist of 20 channels at launch, including 'Hell's Kitchen US', 'True Crime', 'The Oxford Detectives', '90s Favourites' and 'The Chase'. ITV said it intends to offer viewers a new themed channel, every week.
Dave Castell, General Manager, EMEA, at The Trade Desk, said that ITVX has the potential to be a real-game changer for the nation’s TV industry. “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,” he said. “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.”