The what and why behind itvX
Laura Behan, Deputy Head of AV
This morning, I attended a webinar by ITV who shared their plans and ambitions for their new free streaming service. itvX will replace the current on-demand ITV catch-up service ITVHub.
The new platform has been designed as much more than a catch-up service. itvX has been created as a streaming service destination. It will offer people more choice on viewing content than ever before.
The new platform will include 6 core areas:
1. Exclusive US Partnerships – access to series such as One Tree Hill and The OC
2. 500 Feature Films – from distributors Disney, Warner Bros and more
3. UK Boxsets – for example Broadchurch and Cold Feet
4. F.A.S.T Channels – curated playlists such as programme specific or genres (ITV Sport)
5. Every series released after first linear episode launch – option to watch the full series after linear launch
6. Exclusive weekly premieres – unique to itvX at least 6-9 months prior to linear launch
The interface has been designed with other popular streaming services in-mind. On first look you wouldn’t be mistaken to thinking you had actually logged on to your Netflix account. But they do say imitation is the best form of flattery. The platform has been designed to provide personalisation for its viewers, allowing registered users to create their own profile. The interface will also allow parents to set-up profiles for their children, providing a safe viewing environment and ease of accessing favourite cartoons and characters.
The new platform is due to launch in November 2022 in time for one of the biggest TV events of the 2022 calendar, The FIFA World Cup in Qatar. ITV have planned the launch to capitalise on viewing increases across November – December. However, we know that live sporting events are more likely to be viewed at the time of transmission and on the biggest screen in the house. I am therefore skeptical for the need for a streaming service, when the content is available to access quicker and easier on the linear platform.
ITV’s rebrand from ITVHub to itvX allows them to finally join the rest of the broadcasters (Sky and C4 have been offering more than on-demand content for some years) in offering viewers more than catch-up TV. The ambition from ITV is for the platform to have doubled its active users in the next 5 years. Which seems very ambitious from my viewpoint. ITV own a space which amongst other things delivers some of the UK’s biggest TV shows on our screen including daily favourites, the soaps. Would ITV actually make it into my top streaming services when either ‘I have nothing to watch’ or ‘everyone is talking about it, so I have to watch it’ options? The honest answer is currently no but then I suppose that’s why they have rebranded to change perceptions and attitudes.
itvX will also offer a premium service which enable subscribers to pay a monthly fee (currently pitched at £5.99 but this is yet to be confirmed) for no-adverts and access to exclusive content. Currently this is already on the market via BritBox and ITVHub premium but will be rolled into itvX from Q4 2022. This will most likely make up a small % of the overall subscribers to itvX around 1million versus 30million free registered users. Would UK viewers actually pay to remove adverts from their viewing experience? We obviously pay now for Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ etc…but from an established free to air UK TV broadcaster. I personally wouldn’t pay for another streaming service unless it offered me something new, adverts I can live with.
From a viewing perspective I still have a lot of questions but I am most excited about the wide variety of opportunities the new platform will open up for advertisers. I am looking forward to working with ITV and our clients on how we can enhance our current broadcaster VOD strategies.