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ITV expected to make key subscription video on-demand announcements


Announcements made this week could have a major impact on how we consume programmes from the main broadcasters.

ITV is expected to confirm details of its subscription video-on-demand plans on Wednesday, in connection with the publication of its annual report. ITV has so far had limited success with its ITV Hub service and has already indicated a major overhaul of the service is coming up.

The commercial broadcaster is also expected to provide more detail surrounding the long-awaited "British Netflix" or "Britflix" that it is working on with the BBC. The new service would sit alongside the enhanced ITV Hub.

Modelled on the successful US streaming service BritBox, which the two broadcasters already collaborate on, the new service is expected to give UK viewers access to a library of television content for a monthly subscription, rumoured to be around £5. The service is expected to carry a selection of drama and comedy programmes and would change the way viewers access popular archive content from the main broadcasters, which is currently scattered across numerous linear and on-demand services.

Just over a quarter of a century ago, former ITV broadcaster Thames Television and the BBC collaborated for a similar, albeit linear TV service - UK Gold - that also exploited TV archives for pay TV subscribers. The BBC is expected to confirm in the near future details of what will happen to UKTV - the broadcaster that grew out of UK Gold - and now owned jointly between BBC Studios and US media company Discovery. The BBC needs to take greater control over UKTV's entertainment channels in order for all archive TV rights to sit under the control of BBC Studios for it to be able to supply content to the new online service. However, UKTV co-owner Discovery is expected to take control of UKTV's factual channels.

Channel 4 is expected to be part of the new service, but media reports over the weekend suggest it may not be part of the initial announcement. Channel 4 currently manages the ad sales for UKTV, so its participation would be seen as a sweetener to mitigate any loss of business caused by Discovery taking control of some UKTV channels.

Channel 4 has had a varied history with regards broadcaster joint ventures: it's been part of digital TV ventures Freeview and YouView, but not part of the BBC-ITV controlled Freesat  - in fact it fell out with Freesat last year and pulled its on-demand service and HD channel from the platform.