ITV Launches Streaming Service ITVX; Posts Record Ad Spend – Deadline

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The next phase of ITVs digital strategy is here as the network launches a streaming service called ITVX that will air shows months before they arrive on linear, while posting impressive revenue and profit growth and record advertising spend.

Launching later this year or next with both an AVoD and SVoD option, ITVX will kick off with dramas including Damian Lewis’s A Spy Among Friends, Helena Bonham Carter-starring Nolly and Lenny Henry’s The Little Birds, along with a new series using deep fake techniques to create hilarious celebrity set-ups, a feature film for ITV2 hit Plebs and a feature doc on the truth about Bill Cosby.

In a sign that ITV is truly embracing the streaming revolution, multiple shows will air six to nine months before being given a linear window.

ITVX will be populated with multiple ITV hits including Broadchurch and Love Islandand, going toe-to-toe with Channel 4’s All4, the network has already struck a deal with WarnerMedia International Television Distribution for U.S. content including UK premieres of The Sex Lives of College Girls and All American, as well as The OC and One Tree Hill.

Total costs next year for ITVX are expected to hit around £45M ($60M) – £25M for data and technology and a £20M one-off launch cost.

BritBox, the streamer run by the ITV and BBC but majority-funded by ITV, will be folded into ITVX, which will effectively replace current ITV VoD player ITV Hub. The future of the BBC’s role in BritBox is unclear.

ITV Chief Executive Carolyn McCall said ITVX “builds on everything we have achieved in phase one” of the network’s More Than TV strategy, which was unveiled three years ago and saw the broadcaster forge a Media and Entertainment Division last year.

“ITVX will be a free service supported by adverts, with a compelling subscription proposition,” she said of the streamer.

“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.”

Kevin Lygo, ITV’s Managing Director of Media and Entertainment, said ITVX will “deliver our programmes to as many people as possible in all the ways they want to watch them.”

The drastic move comes around a year after the BBC pivoted to an iPlayer-first strategy, although the BBC’s focus has been firmly on the content side rather than making wholesale changes to its streaming proposition.

Profit, Revenue and Ad Growth

Today’s announcement tied in with ITV’s successful full-year results for 2021, which showed an impressive EBITA increase of 42% to £813M ($1.1BN), reversing what was a difficult and Covid-impacted 2020, with overall revenue growth of 24% to £3.4BN ($4.6BN).

Despite being locked down for the first three months of the year, the network posted record ad spend fo £2BN, up 24%.

ITV put this down to a 40% boost in AVoD ad revenue growth, “linear channels’ mass simultaneous reach, ITV Hub’s brand-safe targeted advertising proposition and the strong economic tailwind.”

BritBox, however, lost £61M, which ITV said was in line with its £55M to 60M expectation.

Producer/distributor ITV Studios’ revenue increased 28% to £1.8BN, coming several weeks after it unveiled a five-year masterplan to increase revenue 5% per year, double its number of scripted hours and double its proportion of total revenue from the streamers.

“We have emerged from the worst effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as a much stronger, flexible and digitally scaled business,” added McCall.

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