Peter York, the design consultant, once produced an analysis of the logos used by British television channels. York observed that the smaller the channel, the more often they would change their logo.
The same could be said for the streaming services run by the UK’s public broadcasters. While the BBC iPlayer has been a constant since its launch on Christmas Day 2007, other brands have come and gone, remember 4oD? And how about ITV Player?
This week, ITV announced it was dropping the ITV Hub brand it had used since 2015 in favour of ITV-X. The new moniker is designed to supercharge ITV’s streaming services and was inevitably greeted with the collection of ‘Netflix-killer’ headlines that normally appear anytime a company of size launches any streaming service whatsoever. Smaller launches get described as ‘The Netflix of Knitting’.
ITV-X is what management think the broadcasting landscape will look like in future years. From today’s standpoint they’re probably right. And with a brand as powerful as ITV the proposition of an advertising-supported basic tier leading to a paid-for service without the commercials is attractive.
We’ve seen similar offers from the US streamers such as NBC’s Peacock and we learn Disney+.
Over Christmas, ITV dropped episodes of its popular soaps Coronation Street and Emmerdale and assorted other festive treats onto ITV Hub at the start of each day. So the intriguing piece from ITV’s proposals is the idea that major dramas could premier on ITV-X sometimes several months before their linear transmission. ITV will have done its sums, but would you really want to do that with a show that could attract, even now, considerable advertiser interest.
Into the fold comes Britbox, I confess to be pleasantly surprised to see numbers in excess of 700,000 – and remember it’s only on Sky via Amazon. But ITV knows that despite the trend towards subscription stacking it doesn’t want consumers choosing between its two children.
The ITV family of channels also includes ITV; ITV2; ITV3; ITV4; CITV and ITVBe. It’s a reasonable supposition that the +1 channels might be leaving the dinner table first. Who needs to watch something an hour later when it’s available at any time?