HD versions of ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4 will be made available on the Sky platform this autumn, the broadcaster announced Tuesday.
Moving the channels to pay is expected to be the start of a new long-term strategy by ITV as it seeks to move away from its reliance on advertising. It also reflects what has happened in continental Europe where terrestrial channels have also struggled to find a model that runs on advertising alone. Germany’s commercial broadcasters for example formed the HD+ platform.
ITV2 HD will launch in October with ITV3 and ITV4 following shortly afterwards. ITV1 HD will continue to be available on a cross-platform basis. It marks a return to the pay sector for ITV that ended its ill judged DTT operation ITV Digital in 2002.
“For the past decade ITV has not faced up to the challenges presented by the rise of internet-based platforms, the continuing growth of pay-TV and subscription services and the globalisation of content,” said ITV chief executive Adam Crozier. “Over time we expect to move to a position whereby half of ITV’s revenue base will be derived from non-television advertising sources and today we are announcing our move into pay television with the agreement to make HD versions of ITV 2, 3 and 4 pay channels on Sky.”
The standard definition versions of the channels will continue to be broadcast across the major TV platforms. A timeshifted version of the main channel, ITV1 +1 will launch in the autumn of 2011.
The decision was welcomed by Mike Darcey, Sky’s Chief Operating Officer: “The subscription model best rewards those committing to HD and continues to drive its growth. We therefore welcome ITV’s move to embrace pay TV to satisfy the demands of millions who now regard anything less than HD as a compromise.”
ITV is also expanding its online investment, setting aside an initial £75 million.
Revenues from the DTT multiplex operator SDN were £24 million, an increase of 14% year-on-year. Two new contracts, replacing those that had expired, were entered into during the first six months of the year. This has resulted in initially limited revenues but increases during 2011.