ITV to bring Britain new pay-TV drama channel

Britian's about to get a new pay-TV channel that's dedicated to British drama.

As part of a new four-year partnership between ITV and BSkyB, ITV is launching Encore, which’ll be exclusive to Sky’s satellite and online platforms.

ITV Encore will broadcast re-runs of shows previously aired by the provider, including hits like Downton Abbey (cast pictured) and Broadchurch.

The first new ITV channel for eight years, it’s due to launch later this year, and by 2015, will also be screening original commissions.

Chief executive Adam Crozier commented:

ITV Encore is right in line with our strategy of growing non advertising revenues while at the same time creating even greater opportunities to showcase new drama.

As part of the wider deal with Sky, ITV has renewed the agreements that allow Sky to carry its ITV 2, 3 and 4HD channels.

Sky will also have access to ITV’s catch up and videos-on-demand services.

Analysts at Liberum said that this means that, for Sky’s 4.8m subscribers, ITV will presumably an increased retransmission fee, although ITV’s not releasing any information, so it’s difficult to calculate the increase to revenue.

They comment: "It is increasingly clear ITV is becoming cleverer about monetising its content."

ITV saw its audience increase year-on-year for the first time in 20 years last year.

Liberum says that ITV fundamentals look compelling. It has a dominant position in the market (45 per cent) and its main competitor, Channel 4 (25 per cent of the market), is losing ground.

A strong balance sheet and the potential uplift from retransmission points to stock continuing to do well into this year and the next, it added.

Over the past year, ITV shares have jumped from 113p to 207p: