Carolyn McCall, Chief Executive of ITV, has confirmed that the UK public service commercial broadcaster will launch an SVoD service at some stage in 2019, and would be enhancing its existing its existing ITV Hub AVoD service.
Delivering a Media Mastermind Keynote at MIPCOM, McCall said the service would be separate from the ITV Hub – essentially an advertising-supported catch-up service – and would be ITV-led, although the broadcaster would be looking to work with partners on the project.
Media reports earlier in 2018 had suggested that fellow PSBs the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV were in talks to create a joint streaming service to take on the increasing dominance that Netflix and Amazon Prime Video hold in the UK.
She rebutted a suggestion from session moderator Kate Bulkley that the planned service would be a ‘British Netflix’. “Netflix is Netflix,” she asserted. “What we will do is specific and differentiated for the British market.”
Noting that consumers often have multiple SVoD subscriptions, McCall revealed that ITV research indicated that as long as you are doing something distinctive and good value, consumers will pay for “more than one, two, three, subscriptions, but there is a limit to what they will do. There is a window there and we have a great opportunity. But we will be learning. We’ll be testing and evolving, iterating what we do,” revealing that this would happen “sometime in 2019”.
It will feature “British-originated content,” and at some stage there would be original content, “because that’s what you have to do, but we’re not saying we will launch with that. We’re not doing a ‘Big Bang, this is it. It’s perfect, we know what we’re doing immediately. This is about testing and making sure we are listening to viewers and consumers. It has to be differentiated,” she reiterated.
McCall also confirmed that some £60 million was being invested in ITV Hub to make it “much more of a destination where people want to spend time because there will be more personalisation”. According to McCall, the enhancements will include own user space which will give recommendations. ”It will become a much richer user experience and that’s what we are investing in now, and we’ll start seeing that by Christmas and by next year. It’s a phased plan. So it’s really step-changing the offer on VoD,” she declared.