ITV’s digital-first strategy to alienate older audience
ITV is placing exclusive Originals and a digital-first windowing strategy at the heart of its new hybrid AVOD/SVOD service. Set to launch in December 2022, ITVX will integrate ITV’s three streaming brands (ITV Hub, ITV Hub+ and BritBox) into one single destination. The platform will offer both library and original exclusive content in a bid to boost digital viewing and revenues.
Having already scaled up the content catalogue of ITV Hub ahead of the transition, the new ITVX platform will launch with 10,000 hours of free content. Although this is roughly two-thirds the size of the volume of free content available on BBC iPlayer and All4, the broadcaster is hoping exclusive ITVX commissions can help the platform stand out in an increasingly crowded market.
In a step change to its traditional approach, much of the new content dropped on the platform will not be available on broadcast channels until 6-9 months after its ITVX premiere. Flagship Drama, Comedy and Reality titles will also be released onto the platform as a full series or boxset on their first day of broadcast. Available in the free tier, these exclusive releases, such as Cold War spy thriller: A Spy Among Friends, aim to drive free-to-air TV viewers to free streaming, and position ITVX as a destination for UK consumers to discover new content.
While this change in ITV windowing indicates that the broadcaster is shifting towards a digital-first content strategy, drawing viewers from its live environment could cannibalise ITV’s linear services. This is unlikely to negatively impact its broadcast viewing share among younger audiences who are increasingly abandoning traditional broadcast. However, ITV does risk alienating older audiences that have a regular linear habit and are yet to view VoD services as destinations for content discovery. Regardless, ITV must be confident that it can fully monetise large-scale audiences on ITVX. Investing in compelling original content and optimising its release strategy will be key to this.