ITV has announced a major overhaul of its streaming strategy with the launch of ITVX.
The new integrated advertising and subscription funded AVOD/SVOD platform will be branded ITVX and roll in both the existing ITV Hub and Britbox. ITVX will also include a package of FAST channels.
Viewers will be able to watch thousands of hours of content for free in an advertising-funded tier or upgrade to a subscription service that delivers the content for free and also includes content from Britbox and third parties.
In a significant change, content will premier on ITVX sometimes several months before making its debut on the ITV family of linear channels.
Carolyn McCall, ITV’s Chief Executive said: “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 of our advertisers. This will enable ITV to continue to be both commercial viewers and advertisers’ first choice.”
As well as “streaming first” exclusives, all the drama and comedy ITV commissions will be made available to viewers in one go on ITVX, for free, as soon as the first episode has aired on ITV’s linear channels. The same will be true of the majority of reality series.
There will be 20 FAST channels at launch, including Hell’s Kitchen US, True Crime, The Oxford Detectives, 90s Favourites and The Chase. ITV intends to offer viewers a new themed channel, every week of the year on ITVX.
ITV has bought out the BBC’s share in the UK Britbox venture, which now has 733,000 subscribers, ahead of targets.
However, incorporating it within ITVX appears to be a realisation that a brand can only have so many streaming services. ITV Hub already has its own paid-for tier.
Until the launch of ITVX later this year, ITV Hub will continue to be the free streaming home of ITV, with ongoing plans to scale up the amount of content on the service in the run-up to ITVX launch. ITV Hub currently has 4,000 hours of content while ITVX will have around 15,000 hours at launch.
(Updated to reflect purchase of the BBC’s share in Britbox UK)