U.K. TV giant ITV will launch its new streaming service ITVX in November to attract more overall viewers for its content, managing director, media and entertainment Kevin Lygo told a TV industry event on Wednesday. He also credited the “extraordinary success” of fellow reality TV series Love Island as a key driver behind the decision to reboot reality hit Big Brother.
ITV had previously only said that it would debut ITVX in the fourth quarter as a free, advertising-funded streaming service, with Lygo in his appearance now mentioning November as the launch month. It will feature all of ITV’s programming along with content acquisitions, including from the U.S. and including films, he said. A new exclusive programming event will drop on the streamer regularly, starting with espionage drama A Spy Among Friends, starring Damian Lewis and Guy Pearce.
The streamer will target to provide “a world of shows, some familiar, some not familiar, live programming, news” and more, Lygo said, adding some people will watch shows on the streamer when they are released, while others may catch them later when all episodes are online. With so much great TV programming available on so many platforms these days, “you have to fight ever harder” to get people to watch your channels and services, Lygo emphasized. “More people will watch” ITV programs thanks to ITVX, he vowed. “We will get more eyeballs.”
Pointing to the success of Love Island and upcoming return of Big Brother to British TV sets, he said: “I don’t think we should stop allowing the public on TV.” Touting the debut of Big Brother on ITV 2 and ITV in 2023, he said if the network does things right, it will give people another show that they feel they must watch. Big Brother first aired in Britain on Channel 4, later moving to Channel 5.
Lygo on Wednesday also credited a 30-minute expansion of the ITV Evening News to one hour as helping ensure that the network is the most-watched channel before 9 p.m. in Britain. The extension of the news show, which started in March, means it now runs 6:30-7:30 p.m., with an increased focus on reporting from outside London to reflect the whole of the U.K., followed by soap opera Coronation Street. “Trusted news from a British source has never been more important, and so we are giving people more of that,” Lygo said during a session on the first day of the Edinburgh TV Festival.
After his appearance, several ITV commissioners, namely head of drama Polly Hill, head of entertainment commissioning Katie Rawcliffe, factual controller Jo Clinton-Davis and director of reality and acquisitions Paul Mortimer, took to the stage.
In late July, ITV said that it was “mindful” of macro-economic clouds and was keeping a close eye on them, but management said during an earnings call with reporters that the company has not seen an impact on its advertising business so far. ITV also has not seen slowing streaming subscriber momentum akin to Netflix at its BritBox service or a slowdown in production work ordered by the streaming giant, CEO Carolyn McCall emphasized back then. “That doesn’t mean to say that we are not mindful of what is happening in the subscription market,” including Netflix’s back-to-back quarters of subscriber losses, she said. “But it is not a concern for us, I think simply because BritBox is a very different kind of product. … It is very niche, the content doesn’t appear anywhere else.”
Lygo also addressed hit show Love Island, describing it as a rare hit with younger audiences. The “right show” can still attract this demographic, he touted.
Lygo also touted the upcoming return of Big Brother on ITV 2 and ITV in 2023, saying if the network does things right, it will give people another show that people feel they must watch. Big Brother first aired in Britain on Channel 4, later moving to Channel 5.