ITVX has officially launched today, replacing the broadcaster’s clunky Hub and welcoming a flurry of new viewers – or so ITV hopes.
The man behind this fresh new streaming platform is ITV’s managing director Rufus Radcliffe, who has made it his task to draw in youngsters and advertisers.
The platform rebrand was first announced back in March off the back of a stellar set of results, with the hope that the move would help revitalise the company’s dwindling share price.
Although the announcement instead sent shares tumbling as much as 25 per cent on the day, Radcliffe told City A.M. that ITV was ahead of the curve in a lot of ways – with Netflix and Disney both separately launching their own cheaper ad offers since.
As it stands, ITVX is a free, ad-supported service, upping content from 5,000 to 15,000 hours, boasting both exclusive shows and fan favourites such as Love Island and Coronation Street.
It also has a subscription option, which removes ads and bundles in Britbox for £5.99 a month.
Radcliffe said he expects about 90 per cent of viewers to watch for free, backing the adland to buy into the scaled streaming proposition.
“The really big focus for us is it’s a free service, which I think works in the cost of living crisis,” he explained.
A key goal for the broadcaster is also about targeting what it is calls “mainstreamers,” which Radcliffe defines as someone who has a main video diet of US streaming (think Squid Game and Stranger Things), but may default to watching ITV to get the World Cup or I’m A Celebrity, for instance.
The idea is that once it can get more viewers on the platform, it can keep hold of them with a wider library that “brands would bite your arm off to have,” Radcliffe says.
However, TV expert at research hub Enders Analysis Tom Harrington underplayed this hype around the digital launch.
“ITV is just accepting that it needs to get into the future,” he told City A.M., explaining ITV’s reluctance to evolve in recent years, especially compared to Channel 4 and the BBC.
ITV says it wants digital monthly users to hit 20m in the next three years – a figure that rather pales against BBC iPlayer’s current 10.7m a week.
Harrington also warned that because online content was harder to monetise than linear TV, the transition may not be the big win investors are hoping for.